Thursday, February 22, 2024

International tourist numbers to top 516m by 2023-end: PATA

The newly released PATA ‘Annual Tourism Monitor 2023’ report shows that international visitor arrival (IVA) numbers in 2022 were the strongest since 2019 and strengthened significantly during the early periods of 2023.

This indicated the heralding of the much-awaited resurgence of the international travel and tourism sector for the Asia Pacific, the report said.

PATA Chairman Peter Semone said: “PATA forecasts of visitor demand indicate that, under the medium scenario, international visitor numbers by the end of 2023 are predicted to exceed 516 million, approaching 76 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. This is expected to further increase to 107 per cent in 2024 and 116 per cent in 2025. The wave is coming, and we must prepare ourselves to ensure that we have a better, stronger and more resilient tourism and travel industry.”

The year 2022 saw a collective annual gain of almost 124.2 million foreign arrivals in 44 destinations, returning to a collective inbound count of nearly 265.5 million. There were wide differences at the three Asia Pacific destination region levels.

The Pacific had the strongest growth rate in 2022 Y-o-Y, whereas Asia received both the largest number of arrivals and the greatest annual increase in absolute numbers from 2021. The Americas had the strongest recovery in the number of IVAs with 69 per cent, followed by the Pacific, with over 57 per cent.

The early 2023 figures showed Asia had the strongest performance of the three destination regions against the metrics of IVAs year-to-date, period-to-period growth rate, and period-to-period increase in absolute numbers of IVAs.

Aggregate IVAs into/across Asia Pacific destinations, 2018 to 2022

There were wide differences at the three Asia Pacific destination region levels. The Pacific had the strongest growth rate in 2022 year-over-year, whereas Asia received both the largest number of arrivals and the greatest annual increase in absolute numbers from 2021.

Among all the source markets in the Asia Pacific region, mainland China is understandably the most significant in terms of volume. In 2019, it accounted for almost 30 per cent of the IVAs from Asia and 19 per cent of the total aggregate visitor numbers to Asia Pacific destinations.

In early 2023, visitor numbers from mainland China saw a dramatic increase, surpassing 23 million. This marks the strongest early-period performance since early 2019. However, it still represents only 34% of the early 2019 level of arrivals. With the recent relaxation of restrictions and the reintroduction of group travel, a significant improvement can be expected by the end of calendar year 2023.

Semone said: “The overall growth in international visitor arrivals within the Asia Pacific is primarily fueled by Asia, serving as both a source and destination region, with mainland China playing a dominant role in visitor flows.”

“Visitor growth from China has been relatively subdued until now. However, with the relaxation of most pandemic-imposed restrictions, we can now expect rapid change. Experience shows us that when change occurs in China, it is both rapid and impactful. The question, however, is whether the destinations in Asia Pacific are prepared, as change involves not only an increase in visitor numbers but also evolving expectations and demands from these visitors.”

This 2023 edition of ATM delivers quantitative information on international visitor movements across the Asia Pacific region for calendar year 2022, as well as a 2023 year-to-date update of those movements.

The bulk of the data presented in this report are provided by national tourist organisations and/or national statistics agencies, with additional sources from other providers as cited in the body of the report.

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