The sun is shining on the tourism trade in Asia-Pacific with double-digit growth notched up in 2010, spurred largely by the Chinese and Indian middle classes packing their bags for a break abroad.
Strong economies, the proliferation of low-cost airlines and a burgeoning constituency of online shoppers are adding to the region’s rosy outlook.
There was an 11 percent rise in arrivals in the region overall last year, according to preliminary data from the Pacific Asia Travel Association. And 2011 is also expected to be a strong year.
“Asia will receive international arrivals at close to double that of the world average growth rates,” PATA’s deputy chief executive John Koldowski said.
“It’s Asians traveling to Asia, that’s the key to all these numbers and the big shift we are seeing globally in the tourism market. It’s all happening in Asia now.”
South Asia reported the strongest arrivals growth with a gain of 14 percent, highlighting a record year for India which posted 5.6 million foreign inbound visits for the year, a 9 percent increase.
Indonesia saw a 9 percent growth, with 7 million tourists arriving in 2010 over 6.4 milion in 2009. Australia and New Zealand and the Pacific islands also had a record year for tourist arrivals.
The total travel market in Asia Pacific is expected to reach $212 billion this year, reflecting a near five percent increase over 2010, according to industry analyst PhoCusWright.
Growth in the region is being boosted partly by a newly minted middle class in the enormous populations of China and India — around 46 million Chinese travelled abroad last year, as did over four million Indians, PATA says.
People from Europe and North America are also heading to Asia and the Pacific in their droves — arrivals from Europe were up 11 percent to 24 million, PATA says, while arrivals from North America grew by over 10 percent to 13 million. “Travel has generally rebounded from the global financial crisis,” said Carl Jones, director of advisory services for American Express Business Travel in the region.