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Boom for Asia-Pacific outbound travel

According to MasterCard International’s MasterIndex of Travel report, there will be a continued growth of outbound travelers from across the Asia Pacific region in the first half of 2006.
Of the 12 key markets covered, outbound travel from the Philippines and Malaysia is predicted to show the strongest year-on-year growth at 13.5% and 11.2% respectively. Strong growth is also expected from Australia (9.5%), China (9%), Japan (8%) and Korea (7.8%).
Besides a six month forecast of outbound travel for 12 markets (Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand), the MasterIndex of Travel also comprises a survey of business and personal travel trends among the urban middle class across13 markets (with Vietnam included since 2004).
“Our latest outbound travel forecasts are consistent with our analysis of the long term outlook of outbound travel - it has been firmly entrenched in Asia Pacific as part of the urban middle class lifestyle,” observed Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor to MasterCard International in Asia Pacific. Dr. Hedrick-Wong further pointed out that “Personal travel has not only taken off in Asia, but the market is undergoing a dynamic process of segmentation. Observed trends in personal travel suggest that Asian travelers are coalescing into distinct market segments, each underpinned with different lifestyles and unique preferences, and businesses will be successful only if they can meet the challenge of market segmentation.”
Released twice a year, the survey report shows that intra-regional travel continues to increase in popularity. An increasing number of the respondents polled (84%) named destinations in Asia Pacific as their top choice for personal travel, above those in Europe (34%) and the United States (17%). For business travelers, 86% traveled for business within the Asia Pacific region, a 25% increase from a year ago.
Mirroring findings from the previous report, Japan (28%) and Australia (24%) are the most popular travel destinations in Asia Pacific for personal travelers, while China (27%) and Singapore (20%) remain key destinations for business travel.
The results also highlight the growing trend of women travelers as Asia’s new spending powerhouse. Females (40%) are traveling more than males (34%) for personal trips, with such travels skewed towards older respondents.
A total of 5,404 consumers from 13 markets participated in the survey (with Vietnam as the additional market included in the survey component). Fieldwork was conducted between 15 October and 4 November 2005, with a sample of 400 or more consumers in each of the markets.
Other findings from the report include:

Personal Travel

- Thais (75%), Singaporeans (64%) and respondents from Hong Kong (61%) continue to top the list of personal travelers in the past 12 months, as they have for the past 3 surveys.

- Similar to the previous report, travel agents (40%), word of mouth (40%) and the Internet (33%) remain key sources of information.

- The concerns of personal travelers remain relatively unchanged from the previous survey. Security and safety issues (53%) continue to be the biggest area of concern, ahead of losing of a passport (33%) and language barriers (25%).

- General sightseeing and visiting scenic spots (55%) remain the region’s top priority activity for travelers in the region, followed by shopping (47%) and rest and relaxation (38%).

- Local souvenirs/antiques/arts & crafts (54%) and apparel and personal effects (53%) continue to be the most preferred shopping purchases, followed by food (34%) and luxury items/jewelry/branded goods (25%).
Business Travel

- The markets with the highest percentage of respondents traveling for business remain fairly consistent, with Thailand (35%) heading the list followed by Singapore and Indonesia (32% each). Over the past couple of years, the incidence of business travel is on the rise in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Korea, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

- Business travelers in Japan (63%), Vietnam (61%), New Zealand (44%), Thailand (34%), China (32%), Taiwan (31%) and Indonesia (30%) needed to travel more compared to the previous period.

- Singapore Airlines (17%) continues to be the most preferred airline for business travelers, as it has been since the inauguration of the MasterIndex of Travel in 2003. Thai Airways (10%) and Air China (9%) are the next most preferred carriers.

- Regionally, business travelers prefer international 4-star hotels (37%) followed by 3-star hotels (22%) and international 5-star or higher end hotels (18%).x