PATA: Asia to become the World’s Epicentre for Tourism
PATA Chief Peter de Jong says he believes Asia will become the epicentre of tourism for the world, driven mainly by China and India, the world’s two fastest growing economies, prompting millions to travel for leisure.
"Emerging new population of first-time travellers out of India and China is the big story for this region. Literally millions who never travelled for the first time are now acquiring means to explore the world,” said Pacific Asia Travel Association President and Chief executive officer Peter de Jong.
"The future is bright with Asia´s 10 to 12 per cent annual growth. This region will become the epicentre of tourism for the world. It is the Asian century.”
New liberal travel regulations and open market policies adopted by both China and India have been instrumental to its rapid tourism development in recent years.
As reported in Bernama, eight million Indian nationals travelled overseas in 2006 spending around US$7.5 billion on shopping alone. It is predicted the number will increase to 16 million Indian visitors by 2011.
China is another key market, with 34 million travellers in 2006 compared with just 2.9 in 1992, comprising mostly of government officials.
The report stated that after emerging from the Asian financial crisis in 1997, Asia is once again positioning itself a s a world leader creating more affluent middle-class societies in the region.
"This is the only region in the world that producers new travellers in great numbers and new economics. So the demographic and economics put together is a very powerful mix to produce new consumers.
"Europe and North America have zero population growth. We (Asia) will have strong and healthy-growing industry," Mr de Jong said.
"Now Asia is rebranding itself too, with the governments investing millions of dollars to sell their tourist spots worldwide to earn tourist dollars -- a major source of revenue for some countries.
"The top three campaigns in the world -- Malaysia Truly Asia, Amazing Thailand and Incredible India -- have positioned Asia as a great vacation destination.
"Malaysia has successfully captured the market and has done a remarkable job with its Truly Asia Campaign," said Jong.
The rise of Asia’s low cost carriers is also expected to fuel Asia’s reputation as a favourite destination.
"The LCCs have democratised travel and brought it to a whole new generation of people and have also opened new destinations. Cities that did not have the economics for full service travel can accommodate budget carriers," Mr de Jong said.
Asia will host the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, and the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.