Bangkok remains the most visited destination in Asia Pacific while Singapore continues to lead the Thai capital in total visitor expenditure, according to the latest findings from the Mastercard Asia Pacific Destinations Index 2017 shared at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Bangkok.
Over the past two years (2015-2016), Singapore has tracked a strong 18 per cent leap in visitor spending. One of only five destinations of the top 20 by total expenditure to reach a minimum spend of US$200 (Bt7,200) per day, Singapore attracted the highest spending visitors at $254 per day, followed by Beijing ($242), Shanghai ($234), Hong Kong ($242) and Taipei ($208).
According to the Index’s findings, 2016 was an exciting year for tourism in Asia Pacific. Fuelled by increasing consumer wealth amongst Asia Pacific’s emerging markets, the region’s thriving tourism industry continues to show vigorous progress. It is the world’s fastest-growing region for international tourism by GDP contribution, with tourism making up 8.5 per cent of Asia Pacific’s GDP and 8.7 per cent of total employment last year.
Overnight arrivals make an unprecedented jump
Half of the top 20 most visited destinations in Asia Pacific saw more than 10 per cent growth in international overnight arrivals from 2015 to 2016. Destinations that benefited the most from this growth include Northeast Asian and Southeast Asian markets – Seoul (32.7 per cent), Osaka (23.8 per cent), Bali (22.5 per cent), Tokyo (22.2 per cent), Hokkaido (21.9 per cent), Chiba (21.5 per cent) and Pattaya (20.6 per cent).
This growth provides significant opportunities which governments, tourism bodies, and merchants can benefit from, including greater economic, cultural and infrastructural development. To ensure sustainable growth, public and private sectors are working to create more welcoming spaces for visitors and residents alike – as well as more seamless ways to get around destinations.
Overall, overnight arrivals to the 171 Asia Pacific destinations in 2016 stood at 339.2 million (9.8 per cent compounded annual growth rate from 2009-2016), led by Bangkok which tracked 19.3 million visitors. Singapore (13.1 million) came in second place, followed by Tokyo (12.6 million), Seoul (12.4 million) and Kuala Lumpur (11.3 million). China stands as Asia Pacific’s most avid outbound travel market, having contributed 55 million international overnight visitors to the region last year or 16.2 percent of the total.
Total nights stayed hit new highs
Visitors to Asia Pacific destinations are travelling to the region more, and doing so for longer periods. In 2016, visitors to the region stayed for a total of 1,768.7 million nights, an 8.1 per cent CAGR from 1,023.1 million nights in 2009. Bangkok took the lead with 87.6 million nights, while Sydney came in second place with 87.5 million, followed by Kuala Lumpur at 76.7 million.
Asia Pacific’s top 20 source markets contributed $201.5 billion to the region’s tourism revenues in 2016.
The mass of tourists from Northeast Asia have helped to boost these earnings. Key findings from the Index revealed China (17.7 per cent) and South Korea (8.8 per cent) as the largest contributors to tourism expenditure in Asia Pacific. In fact, these two markets were also top source markets for Singapore (China No 1), Bangkok (China No 1) and Tokyo (Korea No 1, China No 2), the region’s leading destinations by visitor expenditure. As renowned global shopping and dining locales, they are popular amongst affluent Chinese and South Korean tourists seeking new shopping or culinary experiences.