2012 a record year for Asia Pacific tourism


The Asia Pacific region saw a record number of international visitor arrivals in 2012, according to the latest full-year data from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

The region is believed to have attracted in excess of 350 million international visitor arrivals last year – 5%, or 18m visitors, more than in 2011. This marks the third consecutive year in which the Asia Pacific region has achieved international arrivals growth.

Cambodian arrivals broke the three million barrier in 2012 (photo by Elzbieta Sekowska)
Cambodian arrivals broke the three million barrier in 2012 (photo by Elzbieta Sekowska)

“Asia and the Pacific continues to add substantially to the global international arrivals count. We expect that to continue for some time yet. The players shift and change of course and we can expect some movement in terms of generating and receiving markets. But across the region we expect substantial gains in both the volume and the value of these movements for some time yet,” commented Martin Craigs, CEO of PATA.

Of the 40 destinations covered, only five reported contractions for the year, most of which were relatively small. The only exception was China, which, with a contraction of 2.2%, is estimated to have lost around three million international arrivals from its 2011 inbound count. Excluding visitors from Hong Kong and Macau however, China saw international arrivals increase of 1.6% year-on-year.

Southeast Asia was the strongest performer in 2012, with growth of 9.9% for the year. This equated to an increase of more than eight million arrivals over the previous year and pushed the ASEAN region’s aggregate inbound count to almost 89m.

Within this sub-region, international arrivals to Myanmar surged 52%, while Cambodia and Laos reported gains of 24% and 22% respectively. All three destinations created new records, with Myanmar breaking the one million arrivals mark for the first time, and Cambodia and Laos both breaking the three million barrier. In fact every destination within the ASEAN region achieved record international arrivals in 2012.

After several years of double-digit growth rates, international arrivals to South Asia grew at a more modest rate of 6.6% in 2012 – an increase of more than 500,000 visitors in real terms. Arrivals to Sri Lanka jumped 18% to pass the one million mark, while the Maldives fell just short of it. India saw approximately 6.6m arrivals last year, adding around 340,000 to its full-year total.

Even with the contraction in arrivals into China, Northeast Asia achieved a 4.0% increase in visitor numbers in 2012, receiving close to 8.5m additional arrivals. Japan recovered strongly from its disaster-hit 2011, recording a 35% jump in arrivals, while Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea saw growth of 20%, 16% and 14% respectively.

The Pacific region saw growth of 6.0% in 2012, with 1.1m additional international arrivals.

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