Asia Pacific to Drive Early Visitor Recovery in 2021

Asia is predicted to spearhead a return to visitor growth across Asia Pacific in 2021 according to the newly updated forecasts released recently by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) & full report is vailable on the PATA Store

Taking into account the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of arrivals under a most likely scenario is now expected to return to over 610mil in 2021, barring any other unforeseen interventions. This initial recovery is expected to see growth of around 3% above 2019 levels & herald a return to the initial forecast levels shortly thereafter

This growth in international visitor arrivals (IVAs) is likely to vary by source regions, with Asia expected to rebound with the fastest growth rates relative to 2019, as shown below. The Americas, which is expected to show the lowest contraction in its rate of growth in 2020, is forecast to continue with much weaker growth rates over the years to 2024

During the expected recovery phase in 2021, Asia is expected to generate significantly improved arrival numbers, rebounding from a loss of almost 104mil visitors between 2019 & 2020 to growth of 5.6% in 2021 relative to 2019, delivering more than 18mil more arrivals over that period

Arrivals into the Americas are expected to be relatively strong in 2021, with a net increase of 2.9mil visitors relative to the volume generated in 2019. This is expected to be driven largely by intra-regional flows (Americas-to-Americas) which, after a decline of 4.3mil arrivals between 2019 & 2020, are expected to recover rapidly & generate more than 2.5mil arrivals into the Americas relative to 2019

Note: The category of ‘Other Source Regions’ has been omitted as the volume is too small to register

By the end of 2021, total IVAs into the Americas are projected to be close to 3% above the volume received in 2019. Central America is clearly the strongest generator of arrivals between 2019 & 2021, with more than 3-quarters of the additional IVAs coming from that source sub-region alone

The top 5 source sub-regions for the Americas between 2019 & 2021 generate a sufficient volume of arrivals into the region to offset continued losses from other source sub-regions & markets

Into & across Asia, the largest volume increases between 2019 & 2021 are also predicted to be intra-regional (Asia-to-Asia) for the most part, with a rebound from a loss of almost 98mil arrivals between 2019 & 2020 to an increase of over 17mil between 2019 & 2021

All the source regions of Asia are projected to show growth between 2019 & 2021, with Europe & the Americas in particular, adding increases in arrivals of 2.5mil & 1.7mil, respectively over that period. By the end of 2021, Asia is predicted to have visitor arrivals numbering 5% more than in 2019

The strongest growth in visitor arrivals into Asia is largely out of the Asian source sub-regions, with strong assistance from Central America & East Europe. Together, these top 5 source sub-regions are predicted to account for 84% of the overall growth in arrivals into Asia between 2019 & 2021. Over 3-quarters of that growth volume is projected to come from 3 of the 5 Asian source sub-regions

The Pacific, as a destination region, is likely to have more subdued growth between 2019 & 2021, almost reaching the same volume of IVAs into the region as in 2019. It is not expected to return to growth beyond that however until 2022 when visitor arrivals are expected to increase by 10.5% above those of 2019

While arrivals out of Asia are expected to be substantial in 2021 relative to 2019, they are not expected to be substantial enough to offset losses from other source regions, especially the Americas. In 2022, however, all source regions are predicted to deliver substantial growth in IVAs, adding an aggregate increase of a little under 3mil over the volume received in 2019. At that time, Asia will be the primary source region, delivering 32% of the expected 30.7mil visitor arrivals into the region

While North America is expected to deliver the most IVAs into the Pacific in 2022, the strongest incremental growth in arrivals between 2019 & 2022 is predicted to come from Northeast Asia, followed by Southeast Asia & then Oceania. The top 5 source sub-regions into the Pacific in 2022 are expected to deliver close to 83% of the additional IVAs over that period

“While we can expect to see severely reduced visitor arrivals into Asia Pacific this year & for some through 2021 as well, there is hope going forward. The travel & tourism sector as we have seen during past calamities, is nothing if not resilient & we expect to see growth beginning in 2021 & continuing on thereafter. That makes the assumption of course that this pandemic & its associated negative effects are contained & over by then,” said PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy. “As we rebuild the travel & tourism sector into the future, it is worth considering whether we want it to be ‘business as usual’ or whether we can initiate new policies, procedures & practices that will enable us to see beyond the vision of growth at all costs. Perhaps now we can give real meaning to the oft quoted mantra of ‘people before profit’ & create a sector that generates employment & business opportunities 1st that can then deliver memorable experiences to visitors across Asia Pacific & indeed the world.”

“Millions of people have lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic & we need to ensure that as the travel & tourism industry recovers, we create opportunities for their re-employment as a precursor to growing a more sustainable visitor base,” he added

PATA will be organising a complimentary webinar on 14 May (Thu), 3pm ICT under the title, “Impact of COVID-19 on PATA Visitor Forecasts 2020–2024”. All participants will hear from guest speakers from the School of Hotel & Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University & Euromonitor International relating to the PATA Visitor Forecasts 2020–2024 & impacts of COVID-19. Do register via

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