With so many countries and regions around the world struggling to drag themselves out of recession and in some cases just trying to avoid bankruptcy, it’s not often these days you hear about growth stories in the media.
Despite this, the majority of research, opinion and evidence would suggest that Asia is primed for growth in the travel industry.
Aside from the fact the region is on course to become the largest region in terms of air transport, business travel, utilisation of ancillary revenue models and mobile usage, there are plenty of economic factors in Asia’s favour.
The International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook Report projected Asia’s GDP to grow by 7% in the last two years and the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) expected Asia-Pacific to receive an estimated 397 million tourists per year by 2020 with an annual growth rate of more than 5% compared to the world average of 4.1%.
While the statistics are healthy, the underlying factors supporting Asia’s tourism growth are plentiful, says executive director conventions and meetings, exhibitions and conferences, Singapore Tourism Board, Jeannie Lim.
“Asia is primed for growth in the travel industry because of the vast and relatively untapped opportunities in the region,” she explains.
“In recent years, the Asian tourism sector has demonstrated strong and dynamic growth, despite uncertainties in the global economic environment.
“According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the Global Travel and Tourism GDP growth is still expected to remain positive in 2012, with countries such as China, India, Japan in Asia anticipated to perform strongly.”
Lim adds that the long-term forecast study report, Tourism Towards 2030 prepared by the UN World Trade Organisation (UNWTO), further predicts that the Asia Pacific region will gain most in terms of tourist arrival numbers. The region is projected to increase by 330 million arrivals in two decades, from 204 million in 2010 to 535 million tourist arrivals in 2030. As such, the region’s global market share is expected to expand from 22% in 2010 to 30% in 2030.
“In addition, there is rising intra-regional travel among Asians,” Lim continues.
Another key segment fuelling the travel and tourism growth in Asia is the Mass Affluent Consumer (MAC). This segment is estimated to grow by 20% to account for annual tourism spending of approximately US $430 billion by 2020, the highest contributor of tourism spending. The number of MAC households is also estimated to grow by 18% annually from 160 million in 2010 to 369 million by 2015.
But Lim is right to point out that in order to continue to draw visitors to Asia and “cater to their evolving needs” it is also important to constantly develop innovative tourism products and create new and unique experiences to Asia.
“Singapore has a host of new and exciting tourism products such as Gardens by the Bay and the International Cruise Terminal,” she asserts.
“Over the next few years, other new products that visitors can expect include the River Safari, National Art Gallery, and new hotel properties such as the W Singapore Sentosa Cove.”
With this in mind, TravelRave, Asia’s mega travel and tourism festival – where business leaders and professionals in the travel and tourism industry convene to network, share knowledge and insights, discover new business opportunities and celebrate Asian tourism at its best – is more important than ever.
Last year’s showing brought in more than 9,500 delegates from across the globe, and TravelRave 2012, to be held in Singapore, from 15 to 19 October, promises to be even more exciting, as Lim explains.
“With Asia leading the growth of travel and tourism, it is timely for the industry to come together to gain a deeper understanding of Asia, collaboratively discuss how to unlock the region’s potential, and further catalyse business opportunities for Asia’s tourism industry,” she continues.
“TravelRave provides that distinctive platform for the Asia Pacific travel and tourism industry to come together to conduct business, and discuss key issues pertaining to the ever evolving needs of the Asian travel and tourism industry. By being the only travel and tourism platform in Asia that brings together complementary business events within the entire travel eco-system, TravelRave creates more opportunities for delegates to network and exchange insights.”
It is the coming together of the “collective energies of Asia” that is the real strength of the festival, integral in facilitating growth for the region and developing new allegiances, ideas and strategies.
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 Includes Southeast Asia, North Asia, South Asia and West Asia and excludes Oceania
 Indonesia (2,592,000); PR China (1,577,000), Malaysia (1,141,000), Australia (956,000) and India (869,000) were Singapore’s top five international visitor-generating markets for 2011.
 Report by Boston Consulting Group released at TravelRave’s Asia Travel Leaders Summit 2011