Visitor arrivals to destinations in Asia increased 4.5% in 2015, according to new data from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).
But the region experienced significant variations, with Northeast Asia reporting 3.5% growth, Southeast Asia recording a 6.7% increase, and South Asia registering growth of 8.2%.
In terms of individual destinations, Japan had an especially strong year, with international arrivals jumping 47% to a new record of 19.7 million. Japan had previously set itself a target of achieving 20m arrivals by 2020, but the easing of visa requirements and weakness of the Japanese yen allowed the country to get close to this figure five years ahead of schedule.
Thailand, which was recovering from a relatively weak 2014, experienced a 21% increase to 29.9m visitors, while arrivals to Sri Lanka increased by almost 18% to 1.8m.
Not included in the Asian figures are arrivals to destinations in the Pacific region, which jumped 7% to almost 27m in 2015.
Underpinning much of the region’s growth was the surge in outbound travel from China. According to data from the China Tourism Research Institute, 120m mainland Chinese travelled overseas in 2015, up 12% year-on-year, and the top five destinations were all in Asia: South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand.