|Cambodia saw a 22 percent increase in visitor arrivals during February 2011.|
International visitor arrivals into Asia and the Pacific for February 2011 showed a year-on-year increase of 5 percent, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) reported. Preliminary figures for February showed that demand growth was, to a certain degree, impacted by the shift of the Lunar New Year from the middle of the month in 2010 to the first week of the month this year.
South Asia continued to set the pace with the strongest arrivals growth from amongst the four sub-regions covered in February with a gain of 15 percent. Two destinations involved in the hosting of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, India and Sri Lanka, recorded the fastest arrivals growth of 15 percent for the month. Arrivals to the Maldives (up 13 percent) and Nepal (up 12 percent) also grew strongly in February.
Travel demand to Southeast Asia remained robust with arrivals to the sub-region growing by 10 percent year-on-year, with the majority of the destinations recording double-digit gains in arrivals, led by Cambodia (up 22 percent), Myanmar (up 29 percent) and Vietnam (up 22 percent).
Northeast Asia, on the other hand, registered a significantly slower growth of 3 percent for the month, but added 1.4 million more visitors. Taiwan (up 17 percent) maintained strong inbound growth but growth for other destinations in the sub-region were modest, ranging from 2 percent (China, Hong Kong and Japan) to 5 percent (Macau), PATA said.
International arrivals to the Pacific rose 4 percent in February 2011, with Australia registering a marginal decline (down 0.2 percent) and New Zealand posting flat inbound growth of 0.2 percent.
Arrivals to Vanuatu and Hawaii surged 71 percent and 12 percent respectively but the Marshall Islands and Northern Marianas reported double-digit declines for the month, PATA said.
Kris Lim, director, Strategic Intelligence Centre, PATA, said: “For the first two months of the year, inbound growth was 6 percent. Moderating growth was to be expected following last year’s impressive recovery. Going forward, economic fundamentals remain strong and the positive momentum is expected to continue but the aftermath of the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa are expected to have a dampening effect on travel demand in the short-term.”
The latest figures from the Japan National Tourism Organization showed that both Japan’s inbound and outbound demand fell sharply in March, by 50 percent and 18 percent respectively. Hopes are for a quick return to normalcy sometime from June onwards as the larger part of the country has not been affected by the earthquake and tsunami and given the ongoing issues taking place at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Because the Middle East market provides approximately 2 million visitors to Asia Pacific annually, PATA also noted drops in visitor arrivals to some of its destinations, including Thailand, which saw a 15 percent decrease in arrivals from the Middle East in March 2011.