International arrivals to Asia Pacific destinations climbed by a collective +6% year-on-year in October and November 2011, according to figures from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). This momentum is expected to continue for the rest of the year, paving the way for an expected full-year arrivals gain of +5-6% in 2011, above the global growth figure of +4%.
The overall international visitor arrivals count to the wider Asia Pacific region – which includes North America – is expected to reach around 430 million for the year.
For the first 11 months of the year, South Asia was the leading growth performer, followed by Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and the Pacific, all of which saw tourism demand improve at different rates of growth.
Southeast Asia recorded a relatively slower close on the year with growth of +7% and +3% in October and November 2011 respectively. A number of factors were responsible for this result, said PATA, most particularly the flooding that occurred across many destinations. Thailand, although partially hit by flooding – and a negative perception of the extent of the flooding – realised a gain of +8% and a loss of +18% in foreign arrivals during October and November 2011 respectively, compared to the corresponding periods in 2010.
This negative effect also continued through December but at a reduced rate. Thanks to sustained travel demand out of China in particular, many reporting destinations managed to show double-digit growth in November ranging from +43% for Vietnam, +26% for Myanmar, +20% for the Philippines to +13% for Indonesia. Overall, growth in international arrivals to Southeast Asia for calendar year 2011 is expected to be around +11%.
The Pacific posted a +3% increase during October 2011 as the lingering impact of the Rugby World Cup helped drive foreign arrivals to New Zealand, which registered close on a +17% increase during that month. During November, travel demand growth into Australia (+1%) and New Zealand (+2%) was back to the average levels seen during the past months of 2011. Most reporting Pacific islands also recorded weak performances in November with only Palau showing double-digit growth. The Pacific had a sluggish year with expected year-on-year growth in arrivals expected to be largely flat for calendar year 2011.