Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, remains the most visited destination in Asia Pacific, but the island-city-state of Singapore continues to lead in total visitor expenditure.
Over the past two years, Singapore has tracked a strong 18-percent leap in visitor spend. One of only five destinations of the top 20 by total expenditure to reach a minimum spend of $200 per day, Singapore attracted the highest spending visitors at $254 per day, followed by Beijing ($242), Shanghai ($234), Hong Kong ($211) and Taipei ($208).
This latest findings come from the Mastercard Asia Pacific Destinations Index 2017 shared at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Bangkok.
According to the Index’s findings, 2016 was an exciting year for tourism in Asia Pacific fueled by increasing consumer wealth among Asia Pacific’s emerging markets.
The region’s thriving tourism industry continues to show vigorous progress, and in fact, the world’s fastest growing region for international tourism by GDP contribution. Tourism made up 8.5-percent of Asia Pacific’s GDP and 8.7-percent of total employment last year.
Overnight arrivals boom
Half of the top 20 most visited destinations in Asia Pacific saw more than 10-percent growth in international overnight arrivals from 2015 to 2016.
Destinations that benefited most from this growth include Northeast Asian and Southeast Asian markets – Seoul (32.7 percent), Osaka (23.8 percent), Bali (22.5 percent), Tokyo (22.2 percent), Hokkaido (21.9 percent), Chiba (21.5 percent) and Pattaya (20.6 percent).
This growth provides significant opportunities which governments, tourism bodies, and merchants can benefit from, including greater economic, cultural and infrastructural development.
In total, overnight arrivals to the 171 Asia Pacific destinations in 2016 stood at 339.2 million led by Bangkok tracking 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 traveling 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 with Bangkok leading with 87.6 million nights, while Sydney came in second place with 87.5 million, followed by Kuala Lumpur at 76.7 million.
Sydney’s second-place position is especially outstanding compared to its number of overnight arrivals. Taking 20th place in the latter ranking, Sydney’s ratio of average number nights stayed versus number of overnight arrivals is shared by fellow Australian destinations Melbourne and Brisbane on the Index.
As many tourists have to travel a distance to reach Australia, they are more likely to stay for longer periods to make their journey worthwhile.
Overall visitor spend nearly as twice
Spurred by Asia Pacific’s burgeoning middle class, overall tourism expenditure in the region jumped from $141.5 billion in 2009 to $244.9 billion in 2016.
Moreover, 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 percent) and South Korea (8.8 percent) as the largest contributors to tourism expenditure in Asia Pacific.
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 particularly popular among affluent Chinese and South Korean tourists seeking new shopping or culinary experiences.