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Tourism in the Region

As noted by the WTO (1996), the Asia-Pacific region has experienced rapid tourism growth during the past decade. The absolute and relative growth in arrivals and receipts is shown in Figures 1 and 2, respectively.

As illustrated by the figures, tourism in the East Asia and Pacific region has grown much faster than in the South Asia region, and somewhat faster than global tourism. WTO (1997) estimates that the East Asia and Pacific region had 87 million international arrivals in 1996, with South Asia having 4.5 million international arrivals in that period. These arrivals generated US$80.8 billion and US$4.0 billion in receipts, respectively2. The importance of tourism relative to other economic sectors is illustrated by the share of tourism receipts in services and merchandise exports (WTO 1997:18):

2 The Asia-Pacific region thus accounted for about a sixth of world international arrivals and nearly a quarter of receipts in 1996 (editor).

Region

Share of tourism receipts in services

Ratio of tourism receipts to merchandise exports

Northeast Asia

30.3%

3.6%

Southeast Asia

42.3%

8.8%

Australasia (AU + NZ)

46.7%

13.9%

Other Oceania

260.4%

63.5%


Figure 1: International Tourism Arrivals (millions)


Figure 2: International Tourism Receipts (US$ billions)

Though tourism plays a particularly important role in Oceania, these figures indicate its importance throughout the East Asia and Pacific region. WTTC (1997) estimates of travel and tourism’s impact on regional output are (includes domestic tourism, amounts in US$ billions):

Northeast Asia

751

Southeast Asia

105

South Asia

46

Oceania

67

Within the East Asia and Pacific region, the top ten countries in terms of international tourism receipts, excluding transport, for 1996 are (WTO 1997:51, amounts in US$ billions):

Hong Kong

10.8

China

10.2

Australia

8.7

Thailand

8.5

Singapore

7.9

Indonesia

6.1

Korea (Rep.)

5.4

Japan

4.1

Malaysia

3.9

Macau

3.5

The top ten East Asia and Pacific countries in terms of average annual growth rate for receipts, 1986-1996, are (WTO 1997:40, 43, 46):

Indonesia

26.3%

Australia

20.9%

China

20.9%

Vanuatu

20.9%

Macau

20.8%

Malaysia

19.9%

Thailand

19.6%

N. Mariana Is.

17.0%

Hong Kong

16.8%

Singapore

16.2%

Importantly, the region is not solely a recipient of visitors from outside the region. Indeed, the following figures for market share (percent of total arrivals in East Asia and the Pacific coming from each source region, 1996) indicate that countries within the region generate most of the region’s tourism arrivals (WTO 1997:54):

East Asia/Pacific

79.3%

Europe

11.4%

Americas

6.9%

South Asia

1.6%

Africa

0.5%

Middle East

0.4%

Using a different country grouping, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (1996) reports that 61% of the international arrivals in the Pacific Asia region originated from Asia, up from only 45% a decade ago.

The current importance of intraregional travel is illustrated by the case of Malaysia. As of 1994, the ten largest markets for Malaysia were, in decreasing order (MCAT 1995):

Singapore (by far the largest)
Thailand
Japan
Taiwan
Indonesia
UK
Brunei
Hong Kong
Australia
China

The future importance of intraregional travel is illustrated by efforts by national tourism organizations and the private sector to increase such travel. For example, Tourism Malaysia’s bimonthly publication Malaysia Tourism summarizes efforts to attract the Japanese (March/April and September/October 1996 issues), Chinese (March/April and July/August 1996), Indonesian (September/October 1996), and Indian (July/August 1996) markets.