Tue, 29 Jul 2003

RI expects 2.58m tourists in H2

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Outbound travel in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to increase during the second semester, with Indonesia projected to receive 2.58 million tourists from its five biggest markets in the region, according to a report.

The five biggest markets are Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, according to the report MasterIndex of Travel, which was jointly released by Mastercard International and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

Meanwhile, 1.15 million Indonesians are expected to travel around the world, a growth of 8 percent compared to the same period last year, the report said.

China's outbound travelers are expected to grow by 18 percent to 6.3 million during the second semester, compared to the same period last year. China's growth is the highest expected in the region.

Indonesia, Hong Kong and Thailand will take the benefit of the surge in the number of Chinese travelers, as more than half of the 6.3 million travelers are expected to travel to the three countries, the report said.

Outbound travelers from Japan, one of the main tourist sources in the region, are expected to increase 0.8 percent to 8.1 million in the second semester of the year

The region's tourism industry plunged sharply in the past several months following the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in several countries and the fallout from the Iraq war. But, recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) lifted the travel bans imposed on SARS-affected countries, including Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard economic advisor for the Asia- Pacific region said there were now positive indications that the region's tourism would recover in the second semester.

However, outbound travelers from three countries in Asia, namely South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, are predicted to decline in number in the second semester of the year.

Travelers from Hong Kong are predicted to decline by 6.5 percent to 2.67 million from 2.85 million over the same period last year, South Korea to decline by 7.5 percent and Singapore by 3.6 percent.

MasterIndex of Travel is giving six-month predictions on outbound travel in 12 Asia-Pacific major markets: Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.