Positive trends for Asia Pacific tourism – but treat figures with caution

Posted: Mon 2 Nov, 2009

November 2, 2009 -- Latest figures released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) show that the numbers of international visitors to the Asia Pacific region* improved by a marginal 0.5 percent during the month of August 2009 compared to August 2008. However, figures recorded for the first eight months of 2009 in the same region show that international visitor arrivals are down, year-on-year, by some five percent.

Northeast Asia recorded a year-on-year increase of four percent in international visitor arrivals for August 2009 with growth in China (PRC) (+3 percent), Hong Kong SAR (+6 percent) and Macau SAR (+7 percent) pushing the aggregate figure into positive territory (at least in relative terms).

Arrivals to Southeast Asia grew by three percent in August, mainly supported by strong arrivals to Malaysia (+10 percent). Cambodia was the only other country in this sub-region with positive arrivals growth (+9 percent). Rates of decline in arrivals to Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam moderated - but arrivals to Indonesia fell by nearly six percent following the bombings in Jakarta in mid-July.

Arrivals to South Asia were down by four percent on a steep nine percent decline in arrivals to India. The smaller countries in the sub-region experienced increased visitor arrivals: Maldives (+1 percent), Nepal (+5 percent) and Sri Lanka (+34 percent). Declines in arrivals to the Pacific slowed to a marginal -0.5 percent year-on-year in August, partly helped by stability in arrivals to Hawaii. Visitor arrivals to the Americas fell by some six percent for the month.

John Koldowski, Director of PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC), says, "Care needs to be taken in interpreting the latest results as we are entering a period now where the comparative base of last year began its decline. Even mediocre performances now may look good against the backdrop of 2008."

* 41 destinations as measured and reported in the PATA Annual Tourism Monitor

"The global economy appears to be slowly emerging from recession, albeit at a sluggish pace. It will certainly take some time to overcome the impact of this recession, particularly in relation to employment which in a number of countries continues to climb. The need to reduce the now large pool of recently unemployed, notably in the US, is paramount."

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