Visitor Arrivals Post Modest Gains

Vietnam led the Asia Pacific in terms of growth in the number of international visitors for November, compared to the same month the year before. Arrivals were up 37% year-on-year, according to preliminary figures from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

As a whole, Southeast registered a 15% increase, the strongest growth in the entire Asia Pacific. After Vietnam, Thailand, at 26%, recorded the healthiest increase. Malaysia was up 11%, Singapore 8%.

With a drop of 2%, mainland China was the only destination in Northeast Asia to register a decline. Arrivals in Taiwan were up 25%, followed by 11% for South Korea, 8% for Hong Kong, 3% for Macau, and 2% for Japan – the time first since mid-2008 that the Land of the Rising Sun experienced an increase. As a whole, Northeast Asia averaged an increase of 2%.

With an increase of 20%, Sri Lanka had the strongest growth in South Asia, which overall registered an increase of just 2%. Nepal followed with 8%. At 7%, the Maldives were close behind. India was the only country in South Asia experiencing a drop, with visitor arrivals falling 1%.

Visitor arrivals in Australia were up 3%. The US territory of Guam saw 2% growth. New Zealand had a minuscule 0.3% increase. The US state of Hawaii registered a 1% drop.

Overall, the Asia Pacific registered 3% growth. With a decline of 3%, the Americas were the only region reporting a drop, driven largely by an 11% decline in Canada.

“We are regaining some of the lost ground as travel demand continues to pick up in the last few months of 2009,” says Kris Lim, director of PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC). “The year-to-date rate of decline in international visitor arrivals to the region has now eased to a loss of just 35 over the January-to-November period.

The gains, while modest, seem to suggest that the worst is over for the Asia Pacific tourism industry.

“Based on the latest available results for December 2009, the recovery momentum in arrivals remains strong for many destinations in the region,” Lim says. “This is very encouraging and we may look with greater confidence to the year ahead.”

Pictured: Good morning, Vietnam: sunrise on the Central Vietnamese coast
Photo credit: Michael Taylor

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