Pacific Asia Travel Down Five Percent

According to numbers released Wednesday by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), while the numbers of international visitors to the Asia Pacific region are up .7 percent year-on-year for September 2009, growth in arrivals is still down by five percent year-on-year for January through August.

On a positive note, international visitors to Southeast Asia increased by 14 percent and arrivals to the Pacific are up by nine percent. These figures include the 25 percent growth in arrivals to Malaysia and the rebound in arrivals to Thailand, as well as the nine percent growth in Australia, nine percent in New Zealand and eight percent in Hawaii.

Having said that, Northeast Asia took a little bit of a hit. Arrivals were down by two percent in September, together with the Americas which are down three percent and South Asia which is down one percent. China's inbound numbers have also decreased by four percent, as have Japan's numbers which are down by 16.

But bringing things back up, Hong Kong arrivals are up three percent, Macau is up four percent, Chinese Taipei is up 11 percent and Korea is up 16 percent.

Kris Lim, associate director of PATA's Strategic Intelligence Center predicts that 2009 could end with 17 million fewer visitors as compared to the 377 million in 2008. But hope is not lost. "According to the IMF the global economy is predicted to expand by three percent next year - but faster growth is expected for the Asia Pacific region at about double the global rate. The prospects for 2010 appear promising but it needs to be stressed that there is no quick fix for the travel and tourism industry," Lim adds.