ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Dynamic Asia heads for new records.
Thursday, 17th March 2011
Source : ITB Asia 2011
Asia Pacific is powering ahead as one of the most dynamic regions for world tourism, outbound travel in 2010 was increasing at double-digit rates and the year ended well ahead of 2008 levels, thus setting a new record.

The prospects for further growth in 2011 are looking good.

New all-time high for outbound travel in 2010

Asia Pacific is demonstrating this year that it is one of the engines driving world tourism forwards. In 2009 there was a 9% drop in outbound trips by Asians due to the impact from the worldwide economic downturn. But the region is more than bouncing back in 2010, the ITB World Travel Trends Report found.

Asian outbound travel showed strong growth of 15% over the first eight months and is expected to end the year showing a 14% rise on 2009 (due to comparison with the already improving Q4 2009 figures). This result will set a new all-time high since volumes are expected to be 4% ahead of the previous record year of 2008.

The booming outbound Asian markets this year are China, South Korea and Malaysia, which are all increasing at more than 20%, while Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and India are also growing at double-digit rates, the report from Messe Berlin showed.

"These figures confirm the optimism that people were already demonstrating at this year's ITB Asia in October," commented Nino Gruettke, Executive Director ITB Asia. "Prospects are looking good for 2011." Messe Berlin, which has successfully organised the ITB Berlin for 45 years, launched ITB Asia in 2008 in Singapore through its subsidiary Messe Berlin (Singapore) Pte Ltd to create a leading trade show for all sectors of the Asia Pacific travel industry.

Asia to increase world market share

In terms of destinations, 76% of Asian trips are to countries within the region, while 13% are to Europe and 10% to the Americas. This year Asia will increase its market share as a destination for Asian travellers given a 17% growth rate, but the Americas (+20%) are also proving popular for Asians this year. European inbound from Asia is growing at a more modest 8% and should reach 10.4 million trips by Asians this year, according to the report.

In comparison to the strong Asian growth, total world outbound travel is recovering well but more moderately this year and is expected to grow 7% after a 4% decline in 2009. This means that Asia Pacific will increase its share of the overall world outbound travel market this year.

At present Asia accounts for 18% of world outbound tourism, compared to 59% for Europe but is already ahead of the Americas (17%). Given its dynamic growth, the region is expected to continue winning market share in the years to come.

Indian outbound market ready to take off in 2011

The 2011 outlook for Asian outbound travel is very positive, the ITB World Travel Trends Report predicted. The region is forecast to grow a further 6 to 8% next year on top of this year's expected 14% growth. In particular, India appears set for strong growth since 43% of Indians are planning more outbound travel next year.

China and India heat up the tourism industry

Looking further ahead, both China and India have the potential to develop into attractive outbound markets in the years to come. At present, China is the tenth-largest outbound market in the world, just behind Japan, but trailing major European countries and the USA, according to the report. By 2020, however, the number of Chinese outbound travellers could double and the number of Indians travelling abroad could grow fivefold. This would raise both countries within a decade to the top six outbound markets worldwide.

"China's emergence as the new superpower will define the global economy as well as world tourism over the next 20 years," said Professor Haiyan Song, chair professor of tourism at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in the ITB World Travel Trends Report. He stressed that several key factors would drive a dramatic growth in Chinese outbound travel over the coming decade, including the emergence of a large middle class which could afford to travel abroad and changes in visa regulations.

At present most Chinese travel abroad in groups due to visa regulations (as well as for language and cultural reasons) but to Hong Kong, where no such rules apply, about 70-80% of trips are made individually. "In the future if there are no visa restrictions for travel to Europe and America, then I'm sure the percentage of individual travellers will go up significantly," he commented.

Moreover, any strengthening of the Chinese currency, the renminbi, would increase purchasing power for outbound travel, he pointed out.

About the ITB World Travel Trends Report

The ITB World Travel Trends Report 2010/2011 is available at www.itb-berlin.com. The report is based on the assessments of 50 tourism experts from 30 countries, on a special IPK International trend analysis undertaken in leading source markets, and on core data supplied by the World Travel Monitor®, recognised as the largest continuous survey of global travel trends in some 60 source countries. The findings reflect trends which emerged during the first eight months of 2010.
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