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The Tourism Revival in the Pacific

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
people in snow

The tourism industry is a primary financial sector for most of the Southeast Asian countries.

The growth and fall of this primary employment industry generally reflects in the GDP of most of the local economies. This is a fact proven by the travel statistics of the past two years. Globetrotters and tourists have reined in their travel impulses (circa 2007) during the global economic slump. In addition to the global recession conditions, another contributing factor to the fall in the tourist numbers is due to the exorbitant rise in the fuel rates in the Middle East and the domino effect it has had on the airline industry.
However, the travel analytics definitely look perkier from the last quarter of 2009 and have been gaining substantially to post over the average figures by the end of 2010. The industry is gearing for a better tourist influx in comparison to last year for the lunar New Year by Feb 14.

The tourism industry in the Asia-Pacific region in the past two years

Nepal, the Maldives and the island country of Sri Lanka saw substantial increase in visitors in comparison to previous years. However, travel figures to India remained flat. Southeast Asia had the best rate of recovery with a fifteen percent increase in the number of people arriving here.

China did post remarkable growth due to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but post games the stats are the same as for the rest of the region. Another observation is that during the pause in growth that the industry was experiencing, the international airlines reached stagnancy, while the low cost no-frills airlines saw a surge in their growth.

Thailand was largely affected by the political anti-government demonstrations at Bangkok airport, in late 2008, driving back the 3.7 percent growth achieved up until then.

Trends in the tourism industry for the next two years

A potential boom in visitors is expected in the regions of Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong and South Korea. Other booming tourism numbers are forecast for the Maldives and Sri Lanka followed by Nepal, the Himalayan Kingdom.

Analytics by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reveal that North American tourism trade fell to 638 million in comparison to the Asia- pacific visitors of 647 million.

The non-profit organization in the travel trade PATA, or the Pacific Asia Travel Association, has some interesting statistics for the domestic travel industry. Its spokesperson, John Koldowski, forecasts 2011 to be the time when the industry affects a full recovery. However, a word of caution: even with a confirmed flight, given the nose-dive in the number of people travelling, tourists to the region need to travel with buffer time for travelling to overcome any delays or cancellations or combining of flights in or out of these domestic regions.

Brian Sinclair Thompson, at Swiss International, concurs that the Asia- Pacific region is on the threshold of a tourism trade re-growth with global visitors as well as intra-Asia travelers. He expects the major international airlines to streamline and to rework capacities, while the low-cost airlines continue in their expansionist modes.

The tourism industry is vital to the economy of most of the countries around the Indian Ocean and the China Sea and contributes close to 5 percent of the GDP. Revival in the tourism industry in these parts will find resurgence in the economy of the region.

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