Dean Purcell

Asia, Pacific lead tourism rebound

ASIA and the Pacific are leading international tourism's recovery from the global financial crisis, a new report says.

The World Tourism Organisation report said global tourism rebounded strongly last year, with arrivals up 6.6 per cent to 940 million people. Arrivals fell 3.8 per cent the previous year.

"The increase more than offset the decline caused by the economic downturn, with an additional 23 million arrivals over the former peak year of 2008," it said.

Asia and the Pacific was the first region to recover and among the strongest growing areas last year - up 12.7 per cent, it said.

Tourism Industry Association policy and research manager Simon Wallace said New Zealand was in the right area to benefit from growth in the Asia Pacific region.

"It's been a really tough year for the industry ... but I think we can take some heart from the fact that we're in the Asia region where there is good growth," Wallace said.

Roadshows during the past couple of months had shown the industry needed to better understand the experience of Asian visitors, Wallace said.Statistics New Zealand data shows short-term overseas visitor arrivals grew 1 per cent in the year ended May to 2.5 million. Arrivals from Asia rose 9.7 per cent while the numbers from Europe fell 6.7 per cent.

"We need to be really aware of the kind of experience that they're looking for ... what kind of products do they want to do, is our service up to expectation, are we providing the sort of food that they need," he said.

The World Tourism Organisation report said global international tourism receipts were estimated to have increased 4.7 per cent in real terms.

"The most significant change among the top 10 by international arrivals in 2010 was the rise of China to third position [by destination], ousting Spain, having overtaken both the United Kingdom and Italy during the past few years," it said. International tourist arrivals had been projected to rise by 4 to 5 per cent this year, with impacts from events in North Africa and the Middle East, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan not expected to substantially affect the overall forecast, the report said.

Meanwhile, global international tourist arrivals grew by 4.5 per cent in the first four months of this year.

World Tourism Organisation secretary general Taleb Rifai said the sustained optimism shown by the World Tourism Organisation confidence index was reassuring.

The confidence index, a short-term outlook based on consultations with more than 350 experts worldwide, remained largely optimistic for the period May to August.

Experts in the Americas and Europe expected the best outcomes.

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