PATA sees strong growth in international visitor arrivals into Asia Pacific

PATA upbeat on Asia Pacific tourism growth

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) predicted strong gains in Asia Pacific international visitor arrivals for 2024, in its Mid-Year Report for its Asia Pacific Visitor Forecast 2024-2026, reinforcing its original forecast figures released earlier this year.

Its Mid-Year Report for its Asia Pacific Visitor Forecast 2024-2026, to be released early July, underpins the prior report’s prediction of strong annual growth in international visitor arrivals (IVAs) into and across Asia Pacific, exceeding pre-pandemic 2019 levels for the first time in 2024 under the mild scenario, and by 2025 under the medium scenario.

However, challenges persist as the severe scenario predicts arrivals in 2024 to remain 31% below 2019 levels, and 13% below the benchmark by 2026.

Additionally, the association has published its 39 individual reports of the Asia Pacific Destination Forecasts 2024-2026 series, sponsored by Visa and featuring the latest insights and data from Euromonitor International and Visa.

“The severe scenario forecasts remind us that while things are positive right now, with growth projections generally bullish, dangers still loom,” said PATA CEO Noor Ahmad Hamid.

“Geopolitical tensions, the effects of climate change and economic uncertainty prove to be sources of obstacles to Asia Pacific tourism growth, highlighting the critical need for continuous efforts to create innovative solutions that could effectively combat such challenges.”

While uneven recovery rates between each region and sub-region within Asia Pacific exist, IVA numbers of Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific have all been predicted to exceed 2019 levels in 2024, under the mild scenario.

The momentum is predicted to continue into 2025 and 2026, with IVA numbers across all three destination regions forecasted to surpass those of 2019.

As expected, the severe scenario forecasts are much weaker and while IVA numbers are still predicted to continue trending upwards to the 2019 level by the end of 2026, they do so at very much slower rates.

At the destination sub-region level, some very strong IVA annual growth rates are forecast for 2024 under the medium scenario, with eight of the 11 sub-regions predicted to have annual growth rates above 10%, led by Micronesia, South America, and Southeast Asia with increases of 77.8%, 47.0%, and 36.0%, respectively.

When it comes to annual increases in absolute numbers of IVAs, however, the destination sub-regions of Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and North America lead the field, with gains of 44.6 million, 36.2 million, and 12.7 million, respectively. 

The drivers of much of this expansion in IVA numbers between 2023 and 2024 are very much the Northeast Asia source markets with China; Macao, China; and Korea (ROK) adding 35.9 million, 8.5 million, and 7.6 million additional IVAs to the Asia Pacific IVA count, respectively.

Over the 2023 to 2026 period, Northeast Asia still dominates, with the top five source markets by additional IVAs generated all coming from that sub-region.

Specifically, seven source markets are forecast to add more than 111 million IVAs each to the Asia Pacific count with the USA being the sole source market outside Northeast Asia in that ranked list. 

Hamid said: “This mid-year report is a positive indicator that the region is progressing towards growth, even with the possibility of a severe scenario. Moreover, the projected increase in IVAs is poised to make a substantial contribution to the Complete Visitor Economy.

“It is crucial that tourism industry stakeholders turn their focus on promoting responsible and sustainable methods of managing volume growth as a way to foster these positive trends, focusing on quality tourism experiences, environmental conservation, and community engagement.”