The report from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) provides a comprehensive overview of international visitor arrivals (IVAs) in the Asia Pacific region, with a focus on the years 2022 and early 2023.
Recovery in International Arrivals: In 2022, the Asia Pacific region saw a significant rebound in international visitor arrivals after a series of annual contractions in recent years. There was a collective annual gain of almost 124.2 million foreign arrivals, resulting in nearly 265.5 million inbound visitors.
Regional Variations: There were differences in growth rates and absolute numbers of IVAs across the three destination regions in the Asia Pacific. The Pacific had the strongest growth rate in 2022, while Asia received the largest number of arrivals and the greatest annual increase in absolute numbers from 2021.
Recovery Levels: Despite the positive growth, the number of IVAs in and across Asia in 2022 reached only 27% of 2019 levels, with the Americas having the strongest recovery. However, early 2023 figures show continued growth, with Asia having the strongest performance.
Early 2023 Momentum: The recovery that began in early 2022 gained momentum in early 2023, with the addition of more than 93.3 million foreign arrivals. This boosted the recovery rate for early 2023 to more than 68% of the early 2019 IVA levels
Asia’s Dominance: While Asia may have been slower in returning to growth until 2022, early 2023 figures show a strong return to dominance in the Asia Pacific mix of arrivals. It had the strongest performance in terms of IVAs year-to-date, growth rate, and increase in absolute numbers.
Source Markets: The report highlights that most source regions achieved recovery rates above 80% in early 2023, except for Asia. In 2019, Asia was the dominant supplier of international visitor arrivals to the Asia Pacific, accounting for nearly 63% of total arrivals in the region
Mainland China’s Significance: Mainland China is the most significant source market in the Asia Pacific, accounting for a large percentage of IVAs in 2019. In early 2023, visitor numbers from mainland China saw a dramatic increase, although they still represented only 34% of the early 2019 level of arrivals.
Expectations and Preparations: The report emphasizes that with the relaxation of pandemic-related restrictions in China, rapid changes in visitor numbers are expected. Destinations in the Asia Pacific must be prepared for not only an increase in visitors but also evolving expectations and demands.
PATA forecasts predict that international visitor numbers are expected to exceed 516 million by the end of 2023, approaching 76% of the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. This is expected to increase further in 2024 and 2025, signaling a strong wave of growth in the tourism and travel industry.
Overall, the report suggests that the Asia Pacific region is experiencing a positive trend in international visitor arrivals, with particular attention to the resurgence in early 2023. The role of mainland China is significant in this recovery, and the region needs to be prepared for further growth and evolving visitor expectations.