PATA: South Asia and Southeast Asia leading Asia Pacific’s tourism boom

PATA: South Asia and Southeast Asia leading Asia Pacific’s tourism boom

Preliminary results released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) today showed that international visitor arrivals into Asia/Pacific destinations1 grew by 4% year-on-year in May 2011, with the South Asia and Southeast Asia sub-regions recording particularly strong performances for the month.

The first five months of 2011 showed South Asia attracted a 15% increase in visitor arrivals. Southeast Asia came second with 12%. Northeast Asia and the Pacific, on the other hand, only managed 3%. Across the whole of Asia/Pacific the average growth in international visitor arrivals was 5% for the first five months of 2011.

Southeast Asia recorded the largest arrivals gain of 16% during the month of May 2011, boosted by a 66% rebound in arrivals to Thailand, as well as by strong demand growth for Vietnam (+37%), Myanmar (+33%), Cambodia (+12%) and Singapore (+11%).

International arrivals to South Asia also showed strong growth with a collective gain of 12% in May, maintaining the same pace of growth seen in 2010. All reporting destinations in this sub-region enjoyed an increase in foreign arrivals, led by Nepal (+47%), Sri Lanka (+39%), the Maldives (+11%) and India (+7%). 

Growth in arrivals to Northeast Asia, however, was a weak 0.6% for the month, highlighting the impact of sharply lower arrival numbers to Japan (–50%) and the decline in the number of Japanese visitors travelling to neighbouring destinations. In addition to Japan, Chinese Taipei (–7%) and China (–1%) also recorded falling arrivals numbers for the month. Conversely, foreign arrivals growth for Hong Kong SAR (+15%), Macau SAR (+9%) and Korea (ROK) (+2%) remained positive during May 2011.


The Pacific sub-region recorded declines in visitor numbers for the month, albeit at a marginal rate of –0.6%, as Guam (–20%), the Northern Marianas (–13%) and New Caledonia (–10%) all reported significant declines in arrivals. Additionally, arrivals to Samoa were down by 5% while New Zealand registered a marginal 0.4% decline. At the other end of the spectrum, Palau (+30%), the Cook Islands (+17%) and the Marshall Islands (+18%) all posted positive results. Arrivals to Australia were also up for the month, albeit at a modest 3%.

Kris Lim, Director of the Strategic Intelligence Centre, PATA, said: “Intra-regional travel remains the key. The dynamic China and India outbound markets continue to expand at a rapid pace with many Indian and Chinese travellers visiting Southeast Asia.”

As for Japan’s inbound market it appears that the bottom of the trough has been reached and some positive movements are now being seen. The better news is on Japan’s outbound performance where the drop eased to around –2.9% year-on-year for the month of June 2011.

Lim said: “The outlook remains broadly positive in the second half of the year. Coupled with the gradual easing of negative growth seen in Japan, the arrivals growth momentum is expected to continue. We are hopeful of a stronger third quarter boosted by the northern hemisphere summer holiday period.”