APAC’s tourism industry is now the biggest in the world (having overtaken Europe in 2014 in its contribution to global GDP), and the underlying momentum for growth is expected to continue, with a projected 500m arrivals by 2020.
The findings contained in MasterCard’s inaugural Asia Pacific Destinations Index shows Bangkok leading the Top 10 list of APAC destinations ranked by international overnight visitors in 2015 at 21.9m overnight visitors, followed by Singapore (11.8m) and Tokyo (11.8m).
Furthermore, two other Thai cities, Phuket (9.3m, ranking 5th) and Pattaya (8.1m, ranking 8th) also qualified for the top 10, identifying Thailand as the leading popular destination by a very significant margin.
This finding is bolstered further with Bangkok also ranking first in total expenditure (US$15.2b), followed by Seoul (US$14.4b), Singapore (US$14.1b), as well as Tokyo (US$11.9b) and Kuala Lumpur (US$10.5b).
While the top 10 destinations are consistent with the 2009 findings, the 2015 index has seen some re-shuffling as Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Hong Kong drop to fourth, sixth, and seventh place respectively. Overall, APAC tourism has seen a healthy level of growth between 2014 and 2015, with half of the top 10 destinations seeing a rise over approximately 10% in international visitor numbers (see infographic below).
The primary reason cited for the growth is predictably the rise of Mainland Chinese tourists, who are deemed responsible for the bulk of overnight international arrivals. Mainland Chinese tourists are considered to be at the root of over 70% of growth for all three Thai cities in the top 20, as well as four Japanese destinations. In a rough calculation, it is estimated that approximately one-third of tourism growth in APAC since 2009 is due to arrivals from China.
Almost as large but not as readily recognised is the growth potential for halal tourism or tourists coming from countries of Islamic origin, representing 10% of the entire travel economy, which is forecasted to grow from 108 million in 2014 to 150 million visitors by 2020.
Beyond the intuitive finding that Muslim travellers often travel to other Islamic countries like Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, trends are changing with greater levels of Muslim tourists visiting non-Islamic destinations, specifically Singapore, Thailand, the UK, South Africa and France. However, destinations of choice may be contingent on various factors specific to Muslims, i.e. faith-based needs such as the availability of halal food and access to prayer facilities.
Other main drivers of general tourism growth include the rise of the middle class and consequent wealth effects (the ‘emerging affluent’ and upper middle class) may contribute to higher frequencies of travel and greater spending abroad.
Affordability of the destination also played a role, as exchange rates influence travel-based decisions. Also, connectivity (directness of flights), safety and security (effect of advisories on booking choices), accessibility (visa restraints) and value proposition (destinations that cater to multiple types of traveller) are considered relevant factors in travel-based decisions.
The 22 countries represented in the report are believed to account for 90.1% of all international overnight arrivals within the region.
Click on infographic below to enlarge.
See original article at http://www.webintravel.com/apac-is-biggest-travel-market-thailand-is-the-star/