Asian travel growth will be partly at the expense of the Pacific region with Macau, Thailand, Maldives, China and Taipei leading five-year growth in visitor receipts

21 March, 2019

Earlier this year, The Blue Swan Daily reported that between 2018 and 2023, the Asia Pacific region is expected to enjoy a steady 5.5% average increase in international visitor arrivals (IVAs) per year, reaching a record high of almost 900 million by 2023. The information was from new research from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) ahead of the publication of its Asia Pacific Visitor Forecast covering the period of 2019 to 2023.

The recent release of that full report has provided further insight into the marketplace, including, where data permits, tourism receipts, and income and price elasticities for individual countries and origin-destination pairs. Overall, Vietnam is predicted to lead Asia Pacific destinations with an average annual growth rate of +14.0% over the next five years. It will be followed by Papua New Guinea (+12.7%) and Lao PDR (+12.3%), all with average annual growth rates well in excess of the Asia Pacific +5.5% average of for the period. China, Turkey and Hong Kong SAR are predicted to lead the way in 2019 with annual increases of 7.4 million, 4.0 million and 3.7 million foreign arrivals respectively.

In terms of origin markets, the major generators of IVAs are forecast to be China, Hong Kong SAR and Korea (ROK) with those three origin markets producing a collective increase of more than 17.3 million additional IVAs into Asia Pacific between 2018 and 2019. In total, seven origin markets will add volume increases of more than one million foreign arrivals each, with the top five all originating in Asia followed by one from the Americas (Canada), and one from Europe (Germany).

Across the arrivals-generating regions, it is predicted that Asia will account for 69% of the additional volume received by Asia Pacific destinations between 2018 and 2019; Europe will account for 13% and the Americas 12.5%. The Pacific is expected to generate a little more than two percent of the additional IVAs into Asia Pacific between 2018 and 2019.

The receipts data offers an alternative viewpoint on the subject. While China, USA, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia will see the strongest annual gains in receipts from international tourism between 2018 and 2019, Macau, Thailand, Maldives and China are all expected to see double-digit increases over that period. The PATA report says that in total, 12 destinations within this analysis’ parameters are forecast to see receipt earnings increase by more than one billion US dollars apiece.

By 2023, PATA expects China to further consolidate its position as the number one destination in Asia Pacific, capturing more than 22% of the nearly 900 million foreign arrivals expected into the region in that year. The USA and Hong Kong SAR will follow in terms of the absolute volume of foreign arrivals in that year. Significantly, it notes, the top five destinations by volume of IVAs in 2023, are expected to account for more than half of the relative share of foreign arrivals into Asia Pacific in that year.

Of the 210 million additional foreign arrivals into Asia Pacific generated between 2018 and 2023, 73.7% will come from Asian origin markets, 10.9% from European markets and 10.1% will come from origin markets in the Americas.

For the 25 destinations in this PATA report where such data are available, it appears that total receipts from international tourism will increase from USD758 billion in 2018 to more than USD1,073 billion in 2023. The 18 destinations within Asia on the other hand, are expected to see their collective receipts from tourism increase from more than USD432 billion in 2018, to a little less than USD670 billion by 2023. This moves the relative share position of Asia in terms of receipts from international tourism among this group of destinations, from 57% in 2018 to 62% by 2023.

This Asian growth will be at the expense the Americas, but also the Pacific region where the relative share position will decline to 5.9% in 2023, even while tourism receipts grow at an average of 2.1% per annum over that period.