Asia Pacific tourism poised to record 6% growth

Preliminary results released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) show a collective increase of 6% year-on-year for international arrivals into Asia Pacific destinations during each of the months of October and November 2011. For the first 11 months of the year, South Asia was the star growth performer, followed by Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and the Pacific, all of which saw tourism demand improve. This momentum is expected to continue for the rest of the year and paves the way for an expected full-year arrivals gain of 5% to 6% in 2011, above the global growth figure of 4%. Travel demand to South Asia was particularly strong with growth of 15% for the month of October (year-on-year), however this momentum stalled a little in November when the aggregate gain fell to 9%. With the exception of India, all reporting destinations within this sub-region showed double-digit growth during the month of November. A number of destinations in the region set new records for monthly foreign visitor volumes including the Maldives (+22%) and Nepal (+17%) in October and Sri Lanka (+26%) in November. Growth into the sub-region was supported by a strong performance out of Europe backed up with continued strong expansion out of China and India. Not surprisingly, this sub-region is poised to emerge as the fastest growing in the Asia Pacific region with a full-year gain expectation of around 11%-12% for 2011. Southeast Asia recorded a relatively slower close on the year with growth of 7% and 3% in October and November 2011 respectively. A number of factors were responsible for this result, most particularly the flooding that occurred across many destinations. Thailand, although partially impacted by flooding — and a negative perception of the extent of the flooding — realized a gain of 8% and a loss of 18% in foreign arrivals during October and November 2011, respectively, compared to the corresponding periods in 2010. This negative effect also continued through December, but at a reduced rate. Growth in international arrivals into Northeast Asia saw gains of 5% in October and 8% in November — the strongest monthly growth recorded during the first 11 months of 2011. In particular, this trend reflects the slow recovery of foreign arrivals to Japan, which has been gradually improving from a low of 296,000 in April to 616,000 visitors in October and an expected 551,900 in November. The Pacific posted a 3% increase during October 2011 as the lingering impact of the Rugby World Cup helped drive foreign arrivals to New Zealand, which registered close to a 17% increase during that month. During November, travel demand growth into Australia (+1%) and New Zealand (+2%) was back to the average levels seen during the past months of 2011. Most reporting Pacific islands also recorded weak performances in November with only Palau showing double-digit growth. The Pacific had a sluggish year with expected year-on-year growth in arrivals expected to be largely flat for calendar year 2011.