PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre notes that the growth rate has become more stable following the global economic recovery phase, which started in early 2010 and peaked in June of that year. Nevertheless, since then, Asia has continued to show healthy expansion. For the first seven months of 2011, international visitor arrivals into Asia/Pacific have grown 5%. Within Asia, South Asia is leading the pack growing by 14%, with Southeast Asia up 12%, Northeast Asia up 4% and the Pacific region up 1%.
South Asia set the pace with the strongest arrivals growth in July, recording 14% growth and adding almost 90,000 more international visitors to the sub-region’s total compared to July 2010. India (+10%) grew at a faster rate than in previous months due in part to the lower growth base of July 2010. The Maldives (+27%), Nepal (+20%) and Sri Lanka (+32%) all enjoyed buoyant growth in foreign arrivals.
The positive momentum continued for Southeast Asia in July with the sub-region returning an 11% increase in international visitor arrivals. The growth rate of foreign arrivals into Thailand (+19%) returned to a more normal level after three consecutive months of post-crisis peaks which were largely inflated on the back of comparison periods involving the political turmoil April to June 2010. Strong travel demand within the sub-region generally contributed to double-digit growth for all reporting destinations.
Northeast Asia saw a rebound during July to realise a gain of 6% for the month after posting slow growth since February this year. China (+2%) grew much more slowly than its SARs of Hong Kong (+22%) and Macau (+18%) during this period. However, because of its very large arrivals base, the Mainland still managed to welcome more than 260,000 additional visitors during the month compared to July 2010. Japanese outbound increased by 5% in July, the first positive month of growth since the tsunami in March. This promising expansion supported growth for all reporting Northeast destinations, particularly Chinese Taipei (+9%) and Korea (ROK) (+17%). Inbound visitors to Japan however, were down by 36% in July.
The Pacific saw a drop in international arrivals of just under 3% in July 2011. While this is negative, it is still a slight improvement over the 4% decline of the previous month. Most Pacific destinations reported year-on-year declines in international arrivals for the month of July. However, there were some exceptions including New Caledonia (+24%), the Cook Islands (+13%), Palau (+11%), Vanuatu (+11%) and Papua New Guinea (+5%).
John Koldowski, Director of the Strategic Intelligence Centre said: “Even during times of economic uncertainty, the Asia/Pacific region continues to perform strongly, reinforcing its image and position as a powerhouse of international travel and tourism. The source market mix, however, is changing. Some of the more traditional origin markets are losing ground to emerging ones. Arrivals from Russia for example have increased by more than 50% so far this year. Numerically, the Russians are now as important as – for example – France and even Germany.”
Koldowski said that intra-Asian growth is “substantial”, with Asia generating more than seven million additional arrivals to the Asia/Pacific region during the seven months to July 2011.