Asia-Pacific tourist numbers predicted to climb slowly

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The Independent Online

Although the Asia-Pacific region can expect a constant rise in international tourists numbers over the next two years things will still not reach the levels enjoyed before the world's financial calamities took the fun out of everyone's holidays.

So says the executive board of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA -, which on Monday published its forecasts for region for the next three years.

While international arrival numbers in the region are expected to rise by an average of 2.7 percent per year until 2012, that figure is still below the heady pre-2008 days where a seven percent year rise was the norm.

"These latest authoritative forecasts from PATA reflect the reality of the current market conditions,'' explained PATA chairman Phornsiri Manoharn.

"They point to a gradual and uneven recovery as the region picks itself up from the three percent decline in arrivals in 2009. We have witnessed significant changes in travel trends during the global economic recession.

"These changes have brought benefits to some and caused difficulties for others and it is clear that the next three years will prove to be both challenging and increasingly competitive for all our members."

Some destinations are in for significant rises in actual numbers, according to PATA's predictions.

South Korea can expect an increase of 692,000 Chinese tourists to 2012, while 317,000 more Indians are expected to spend time in Thailand. PATA's report also predicts there will be 292,000 more Australians heading to Malaysia over the next three years.

Overall the South Asia region - which includes such countries as Sri Lanka and Nepal - is expected to see the biggest growth, with PATA predicting a rise of 4.9 percent over the next three years, followed by Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia etc) with a rise of 4.8 percent.

PATA noted, of course, that these predictions are "subject to any further major economic, social or health disasters.''