Asia Pacific arrivals up, led by South Asia’s surge

ASIA PACIFIC International visitor arrivals are up 6.8% for April across Asia Pacific, according to data released by Pacific Asia Travel Association, although the performance may be inflated somewhat as last year’s travel was suppressed by the volcanic ash cloud over Europe.

Nevertheless, international visitor arrivals to the region have improved by 5.4% for the first four months of 2011 year over year, adding more than 5.5 million arrivals to the collective inbound count. Intraregional flows within Asia Pacific are still the main driving force, expanding at double-digit growth rates for the first four months of the year. Increases in arrivals from the Pacific and Europe, especially France and the Russian Federation, also continued to support tourism growth in the Asia Pacific region.

Arrivals to South Asia surged by 24% in April—the most recent month for which data is available—with many destinations in the sub-region reporting double-digit growth, including Sri Lanka (67%), Nepal (34%), Maldives (32%) and India (18%). These robust results are due to strong rebounds in arrivals from Europe and North America and the continued strength in the Asia and Middle East source markets.

The results are similar for Southeast Asia, where international arrivals have grown by a healthy 15% in April in spite of the weakness in Japan, one of its key source markets in Asia. Intraregional travel has remained strong and, overall growth for the sub-region is further boosted by the rebound in arrivals from Europe and the fast-growing China market. Arrivals to Thailand rebounded by 35% from a poor April 2010 when the destination was severely affected by political unrest. Double-digit growth in arrivals was also reported by Vietnam (22%), Myanmar (21%), Singapore (17%) and Cambodia (11%) for the month of April.

Conversely, growth in arrivals to Northeast Asia, although remaining positive, is sluggish at 4% for the month, largely as a consequence of the sharp 63% decline in arrivals to Japan. The remaining destinations in the sub-region all recorded positive growth—China (4%), Hong Kong (20%), South Korea (3%) and Macau (11%). However, slower growth into most of these destinations is in part caused by the decline in the number of outbound trips from Japan.

Travel demand to the Pacific grew overall by 5% in April year over year, assisted by the UK-led recovery in arrivals to Australia (8%) and New Zealand (5%). Arrivals to Guam (down 14%), the Marshall Islands (down 15%) and the Northern Marianas (down 18%), however, show significant declines due in large part to the substantial decreases in arrivals from their main source market of Japan.