Asia Pacific Travel Trends

Asian Outbound Travel Boom to Continue in 2017

Double-digit growth in Asian outbound travel led by China - Asians head for the beaches
A person holding a mobile phone and taking a photo at the beach - Unsplash
Asians head for the beaches

ITB Berlin

Asians travelled more than ever so far this year, with a surge in trips to destinations within the region and including many more beach holidays. After a double-digit rise in international trips this year, the outlook remains strong for 2017. Those were some of the results of the 24th World Travel Monitor® Forum in Pisa, Italy (November 3-4).

Outbound travel by Asians grew by a dynamic 11 percent in the first eight months of 2016, according to World Travel Monitor® figures. There was a very strong 14 percent rise in trips to destinations within Asia and also a high 11 percent increase in travel to the Americas. But the number of trips to Europe dropped by 1 percent between January and August 2016.

Once again, China was the driving force for growth with an 18 percent rise in outbound trips (excluding to Hong Kong and Macao). But the Republic of Korea also performed very well this year with an 11 percent rise in international travel, according to World Travel Monitor® figures.

Holidays, which account for an overwhelming 81 percent of all trips by Asians, increased by 11 percent over the first eight months of 2016. There was a healthy 7 percent increase in international business trips, and a strong 12 percent rise in the number of visits to family and friends (VFR) and other leisure trips abroad.

Asians are clearly going on more sun & beach holidays, which grew by 20 percent between January and August 2016, according to World Travel Monitor® figures. There was also good growth for countryside trips (+15 percent) and city trips (+8 percent) but the number of touring holidays increased by only 2 percent. As a result, the average length of stay fell slightly to around 6 nights and average spending per trip dropped by 2 percent (in euro terms).

Dr. Martin Buck, Messe Berlin's Senior Vice President Travel & Logistics, commented: "This year's boom in Asian outbound travel, especially by the Chinese, is remarkable. Moreover, we can observe an important long-term trend. Asians are starting to go on fewer sightseeing trips taking in several countries. Instead, many of them dream of relaxing on sun & beach holidays. In other words, they are gradually becoming 'typical holidaymakers' like in Western countries."

These trends are also reflected in figures from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) which show strong growth for many destinations in Asia and the Pacific this year. The region is leading worldwide inbound growth, with international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) up 9 percent through September, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This was well ahead of the 6 percent growth achieved in 2015. Asia "is the star performer this year" among the world's tourism regions, Michel Julian, Technical Coordinator of the UNWTO Tourism Market Trends Programme, commented at the Pisa forum.

All four sub-regions shared in this growth, led by Oceania (+10 percent) and followed closely by North-East Asia, South-East Asia (both +9 percent) and South Asia (+8 percent). Many destinations reported double-digit growth, with Vietnam (+36 percent), the Republic of Korea (+34 percent), Japan (+24 percent) and Sri Lanka (+15 percent) in the lead.

Against this very positive background, the outlook for Asian outbound travel remains good. IPK International predicts a 6 percent rise in Asian outbound trips in 2017, based on its Asian Travel Confidence Index which measures travel intentions for the next year.

At the annual World Travel Monitor® Forum in Pisa, initiated at the invitation of consultancy IPK International and sponsored by ITB Berlin, around 50 tourism experts and academics from around the world present the latest figures and current trends in international tourism. 

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