PATA: 2012 Was a Record Year for Asia/Pacific Tourism
March 7, 2013, BANGKOK: Asia and the Pacific continued as a hot spot for international tourism in
2012, attracting what is expected to be in excess of 350 million international visitor arrivals, expanding
its collective inbound count by more than 5% and generating more than 18 million additional foreign
visits, year-on-year. This is according to preliminary results released today by the Pacific Asia Travel
This is the third consecutive year in which foreign arrivals growth has remained positive for the region.
Of the 40 separate destinations covered, only five reported contractions for the year. Most of those
were relatively marginal for the region as a whole. The only exception was China, which, with a
contraction in growth of 2.2%, is estimated to have lost around three million international arrivals
(foreign and compatriot) from its 2011 total international inbound count.
The picture is quite different for foreign arrivals to China however (i.e. excluding compatriot arrivals).
The year 2012 saw an increase of 1.6% in that inbound volume, year-on-year.
Southeast Asia was the strongest performer in 2012 in annual percentage growth terms, with a gain
of 9.9% for the year. This equated to an increase of more than eight million additional arrivals over the
previous year and pushed the ASEAN aggregate international inbound count to almost 89 million.
Within this sub-region, Myanmar had a staggering increase of almost 52% in arrivals, while Cambodia
and Lao PDR reported gains of 24% and 22% respectively. All three destinations created new records
with Myanmar breaking the million arrivals mark (in total) for the first time. Cambodia and Lao PDR
both also broke the three million mark. They were not alone either as every destination within the
ASEAN region set new highs in terms of international arrivals.
After several years of strong double-digit growth rates, South Asia is now settling back somewhat,
but still returning strong gains; 2012 for example saw growth of 6.6% and an increase of well over
half-a-million additional international arrivals. Sri Lanka, with growth of almost 18% saw its foreign
arrivals count pass the one million mark, while the Maldives fell just short of it. India remains the titan
within South Asia however, with more than 6.6 million arrivals and a year-on-year gain of close to
340,000 additional foreign arrivals, some 59% of the total additional increase in the arrivals volume to
Even with the contraction in total international arrivals into China, Northeast Asia still maintained a
growth rate of almost 4% for the year. It dominated the visitor increase count by receiving close to 8.5
million additional international arrivals year-on-year.
Japan turned in the strongest percentage growth with a gain of 35% for the year, a performance that
saw the destination recoup the losses in visitor arrivals following the tsunami of 2011 and move once
again into record arrivals territory. Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong SAR and Korea (ROK) also added to
the sub-regional performance with growth increases of 20%, 16% and 14% respectively.
After a somewhat mediocre performance in 2011 (+0.3% growth), the Pacific bounced back strongly
in 2012 to post a collective gain across eighteen destinations of 6%. This in turn equated to an
increase of better than 1.1 million additional international arrivals to the sub-region, which now
collectively boasts an international inbound volume tantalisingly close to 20 million.
The Northern Marianas (+17.4%), Vanuatu (15.1%) and Guam (+12.8%) reported the strongest
percentage gains, while Hawaii, Australia and Guam posted the greatest gains in additional arrivals
for the year.
Across the Asia/Pacific region, preliminary figures suggest that the top five destinations, by growth in
international visitor arrivals, were: Myanmar, Japan, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Chinese Taipei; each
had a year-on-year increase of 20% or better.
In volume terms, there were six particularly significant outcomes with Hong Kong SAR, Thailand,
Japan, Singapore, Korea (ROK) and Chinese Taipei each securing in excess of one million additional
arrivals in 2012; the SAR of Hong Kong saw 6.7 million additional international arrivals.
Martin J Craigs, CEO of PATA, said: “Asia and the Pacific continues to add substantially to the global
international arrivals count. We expect that to continue for some time yet. The players shift and
change of course and we can expect some movement in terms of generating and receiving markets.
But across the region we expect substantial gains in both the volume and the value of these
movements for some time yet.”
The PATA CEO added: “How we measure and determine the impacts of this growth in traffic is
becoming more important, however. That is why PATA is working to promote the concept of the
Complete Visitor Economy throughout its membership and across the wider industry”.
Asia/Pacific international visitor arrivals (IVAs) trends:
Monthly change, year-on-year (%), Jan-10 to Dec-12
Source: relevant NTOs/NSAs; compiled by PATA
IVAs % change (y-o-y)
1 Asia/Pacific is defined as including the following sub-regions for the purposes of press releases:
Northeast Asia = China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Korea (ROK) and Macau SAR
Southeast Asia = Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam
South Asia = Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
The Pacific = Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue,
Northern Marianas, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu
Results are preliminary; estimates are used for missing data. All comparative figures are year-on-year unless otherwise stated.
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Since its foundation in 1951, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), a not-for profit membership association, has achieved
international acclaim by acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia
The Association provides aligned advocacy, leadership and events to its members, comprising 90 government, state and city
tourism bodies, nearly 30 international airlines, airports and cruise lines, 57 educational institutions, and hundreds of travel
industry companies in Asia Pacific and beyond.
Thousands of travel professionals belong to dozens of local PATA chapters worldwide. The chapters organise travel industry
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