Improved year-end figures for travellers

KATHMANDU: Preliminary figures released by Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) indicate that the number of international visitors to the Asia Pacific region fell by an estimated three per cent year-on-year for calendar year 2009, a much improved result considering the fact that the rate of decline was

six per cent for the first half of the year.

The stronger-than-expected pick up in travel demand in the second half of the year saw visitor arrivals to the region grow by one per cent year-on-year in the July-December period.

Southeast Asia emerged as the only sub-region in Asia Pacific to record a full-year gain in international arrivals during 2009.

Visitor numbers rose one per cent year-on-year, supported by Myanmar (+26 per cent), Malaysia (+7 per cent), Indonesia (+1 per cent) and Cambodia (+2 per cent).

Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam, on the other hand, recorded full-year declines of three per cent, four per cent and ten per cent respectively.

Arrivals to Northeast Asia fell by two per cent in

2009, the second straight year of decline for the sub-region after a similar two per cent fall in 2008.

The full-year arrivals numbers were down for Japan (-19 per cent), Macau SAR (-5 per cent) and China (PRC) (-3 per cent) while Chinese Taipei (+14 per cent) and Korea (ROK) (+13 per cent) posted increased visitor numbers.

Hong Kong SAR recorded a marginal 0.3 per cent

increase in arrivals for

the year.

South Asia recorded a three per cent decline in visitor arrivals in 2009, driven by a similar three per cent fall in arrivals to India.

While growth in arrivals to India remained sluggish in the second half of the year, arrivals rebounded strongly for Sri Lanka and Nepal during the period resulting in full-year gains to these destinations of two per cent and one per cent, respectively.

Visitor arrivals to the Pacific declined by two per cent in 2009 mainly on sharp falls in visitor numbers to Guam (-8 per cent) and Hawaii (-4 per cent). Arrivals to Australia and New Zealand were flat.

The Americas recorded the largest decline in arrivals among the sub-regions with an estimated six per cent fall for the full year. The numbers of international visitor arrivals to Canada, the USA and Mexico were down for the year while Chile recorded a one per cent increase.

Kris Lim, Director of PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC), said, “We

ended the year on a

positive note with international visitor arrivals to Asia Pacific shores growing by four per cent year-on-year in December.

This is by far the largest monthly growth in 2009.

It has been an extremely challenging year but not the worst on record in growth terms.”

He added, “Arrivals fell even more sharply in

2003, by seven per cent,

as the SARS crisis

impacted severely on international travel.

The recovery in 2010 is, however, unlikely to follow the V-shaped rebound of 2004. We are better placed now than six months ago as the economic climate continues to improve.

IMF is now expecting stronger growth of 3.9 per cent for the world’s

economy this year, with ‘developing Asia’ leading the way at 8.4 per cent.”