Asia Pacific’s five most popular destinations for international travellers – Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul – welcomed over one-fifth, or 22 percent, of all overnight visitors to the region’s top 161 cities and regional centres in 2018, according to Mastercard’s Asia Pacific Destinations Index (APDI).
The five cities also
captured more than one-quarter, or 25.2 percent, of total international travel
spending in the region.
In 2018, Asia Pacific hosted 342.2 million business and leisure trips, up from 159.1 million in 2009, representing an 8.9 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the nine-year period. During the same period, travel spending in Asia Pacific more than doubled, rising from US$117.6 billion to US$281.1 billion, equating to a compound annual growth rate of 10.2 percent.
continues to drive travel patterns and expenditure flows. Since 2009, overnight
arrivals by mainland Chinese travellers in markets across Asia Pacific surged
from 10.5 million to 62.4 million in 2018, representing a 21.9 percent compound
annual growth rate over the period. Mainland China is amongst the top three
source markets of outbound travellers for 82 cities in Asia Pacific, or more
than half of the 161 destinations in the APDI.
“With the top 20
cities attracting nearly half of all international overnight arrivals to the
161 destinations ranked in the APDI, it is important to understand not only how
continuously rising travel numbers impact cities and destinations for the
better, but also the challenges they pose,” said Rupert Naylor, Senior Vice President,
Data & Services, Asia Pacific, Mastercard.
Other key trends highlighted
by the index include the following:
- Japan is now the hottest destination in Asia: For the second year in a row, Japan is the only market in the APDI to command 25 percent of Asia Pacific’s top 20 destinations, with Okinawa nudging out Kyoto to join the list for the first time, alongside Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido and Chiba. Okinawa is one of the region’s fastest-growing destinations, skyrocketing 109 places since 2009. Less-travelled cities such as Oita, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Kyoto, Gifu and Nagano have also seen significant jumps in the rankings – earning them all a spot in the list of the region’s 10 fastest growing cities by the number of visitor arrivals. This overall uptick in travel to Japan is set to grow further, with Tokyo forecast to benefit the most from the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games.
- Vacation destinations prevail over the fastest rising cities: While Japanese cultural centres top the list of the 10 fastest-rising cities, the bustling industrial hub of Ludhiana in India’s northern state of Punjab claims the #2 spot, having jumped 78 places in the index since 2009. Dubbed the “Manchester of India” for its production of textiles and hosiery, Ludhiana is the only industrial city in this list of fast risers. Sri Lanka’s coastal getaway Galle is in ninth, having climbed 54 places in the rankings since 2009. While China’s panda capital Chengdu rounds out the rankings, coming in tenth after jumping 50 places in the last nine years.
- Asia’s other avid travellers: While many Asia Pacific destinations are basking in the growth led by mainland Chinese travellers, South Korea and Japan are also noteworthy as the next biggest Asian origin markets fuelling rising travel expenditure and overnight arrivals across the region. Top contributor mainland China accounts for 18.2 percent of international overnight arrivals within the region, while South Korea contributes 9.1 percent and Japan makes up 6.0 percent. Another source market to watch is India, home to the world’s second-largest population. In 2018, India waved off 14.9 million outbound travellers, of which nearly half, or 49.3 percent, visited destinations in Asia Pacific. Their most favoured Asia Pacific destinations were Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Pattaya and Bali. With its growing middle class, and population of 1.3 billion people, India’s potential to shake up future APDI rankings cannot be overlooked.