Latest figures released today indicate that the numbers of international visitor arrivals to Asia Pacific fell by an estimated six percent in Jan-June 2009 compared to H1 2008.
The extremely challenging operating environment continued to dampen tourism demand and the month of May confirmed the second major flu outbreak this decade.
The travel and tourism sector in Asia Pacific immediately felt the impact with a steep 10 percent decline in visitor numbers. There was, however, a slight improvement in June.
All five sub-regions of Asia Pacific posted declines in visitor numbers for the first half year of 2009, with South Asia recording the largest fall at 8.1 percent. In the Americas, visitor volumes fell by 7.7 percent while Southeast Asia reported a 5.7 percent decline in arrivals. This latter figure is influenced largely by double-digit reductions in the markets of Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The largest sub-region in Asia Pacific, Northeast Asia, registered the smallest rate of decline at 5.2 percent, but lost more than five million international arrivals in volume terms.
Visitor arrivals to China PRC, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Japan were down but Chinese Taipei and Korea ROK bucked the trend with double-digit growth at 10 percent and 15 percent respectively. The Pacific recorded a year-to-date visitor number decline of 6.6 percent, hurt by steep falls in arrivals to Hawaii (–10 percent) and Guam (–15 percent).
According to PATA Chairman Mrs Phornsiri Manoharn, “At the midway point of 2009, Asia Pacific has lost six percent in international arrivals which in real terms equates to almost 10.5 million fewer visits to our shores, reflecting the extremely challenging operating environment. There is however some cause for cautious optimism for the second half of the year as the global economy is currently showing more stability with some signs of nascent growth.”