While PATA reports that the “strong collective annual performance of foreign arrivals into Asia Pacific destinations saw moderate growth in 2019” and, overall, remained positive, that all changed in 2020 with the appearance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the virtual cessation of travel, as moves to contain its spread were initiated.
In its Annual Travel Monitor 2020 (ATM 2020), PATA provided updated data for foreign arrivals into 47 Asia Pacific destinations that indicated moderate gains in 2019, achieving an overall annual growth rate of 3.3% and reaching a new record high of almost 731 million IVAs, relative to 2018.
The BIG ‘However’
However, early 2020 data for foreign arrivals into 37 Asia Pacific destinations show a violent and dramatic decrease in growth rates relative to the same periods of previous years, dropping from a 6.3% increase in early 2019 to a mind-numbing decline of 67.0% in early 2020.
The loss in the absolute number of foreign arrivals is more than 172 million in the early periods of 2020 relative to the same periods of just one year ago.
Not A Lot Of Positive News
There is very little in the way of positive news; all but one of the 37 destinations have reported annual decreases between early 2019 and 2020 and the only increase was of just 2,600, with that occurring in the first two months of the year when the real impact of the pandemic had perhaps not yet been felt.
Given that the impact of the containment practices to reduce COVID-19 infection rates were initiated at roughly different times across the globe, only those Asia Pacific destinations with data for the first half of 2020 (1H2020) are further considered in order to create a somewhat more level comparative period. While this reduces the number of destinations to 26, the volume of IVAs is reduced by less than 18%.
Within this group of Asia Pacific destinations, all are showing contractions in IVAs during the first half of 2020 relative to 1H2019 ranging from minus 41% to as much as almost minus 90%.
The top five performing Asia Pacific destinations during 1H2020, can only be listed in terms of those with the least negative growth rates relative to 1H2019.
The loss in IVAs during the first half of 2020 relative to 1H2019, rapidly escalated even within the least affected destinations, from less than 100,000 to almost half-a-million, in very quick progression. In addition, the losses should be considered in terms of the overall inbound volume for each destination in order to provide some measure of scale.
Preparing For The Future
PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy, observed: “Preliminary results show an enormous impact across Asia Pacific with the 37 destinations for which early 2020 data have been released pointing to a combined decrease in IVAs of 67%. On the data available, it is obvious that no Asia Pacific destination was spared the impacts of the current pandemic and the lockdown measures needed to contain the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the first half of 2020, relative to the same period of a year ago.”
Hardy continued: “While bemoaning the impact of this pandemic on the lives of so many and the livelihoods of so many more, it also gives us an opportunity to ask why we were so ill-prepared to respond to the threat of COVID-19. The consequence of that would be to engage in business and personal practices that ultimately offer better protection from such threats into the future.”
On Nov. 17, 2020 – from 2:00 to 3:00pm ICT – PATA will be hosting a webinar on International Visitor Arrivals into Asia Pacific in 2020 and Expectations for 2021.
Those interested in attending, can register at