Asia's economic and financial crisis has had less impact on travel and tourism worldwide than earlier feared, according to the results of a survey of national tourism organisations (NTOs) just released by the World Tourism Organization (WTO). The next two years could be difficult, the WTO report concludes, hut strong growth rates-at least in terms of arrivals-are expected to return soon after.
WTO estimates point to an increase of 1.5-2 percent in international arrivals worldwide in 1998. This compares with 2.8 percent in 1997 and 5.6 percent in 1996. The majority of the world's destinations will record positive growth in arrivals in 1998-the impact of the Asian crisis has been very limited outside the region.
A survey of key NTOs in Pacific Asia-South Asian countries were, for some reason, not included-highlights the different performances from one destination to another in the region. Singapore and Hong Kong turned in the most disappointing results in the first eight months of 1998-of -17 percent and -14 percent respectively-but the first seven months produced healthy increas-es for Korea-ROK (+7 percent) and Thailand (+6 percent). Both are confident of maintaining growth levels through the full 12 months of 1998.
Hong Kong's performance, meanwhile, has picked up in the second half of the year, with the result that it is now pre-dicting a less severe drop in arrivals of six percent by year end. For the Pacific Asia region overall (excluding South Asia), total arrivals are expected to fall by 5.6 percent in 1998 to 84.2 million. Intra-regional arrivals are estimated at 64.1 million, down 9.8 percent on 1997's level, while long-haul markets are projected to grow by 11.7 percent-an additional 400,000 arrivals from the Americas, +6.4 percent, and another 1.5 million from Europe, +15.0 percent. The only important source market in Europe to record a decline in arrivals for the region is Russia.
A word of warning, meanwhile. Although a use-ful indicator of trends-not to mention welcome news for Pacific Asia - these forecasts should nevertheless be considered in the light that they focus almost entirely on arrivals and do not address other meaningful measures of performance such as overnight volume and receipts.
As an example, Indonesia's international tourism receipts fell by a
reported 24 percent in the first half of 1998 and the decline for the full
12 months of this year is expected to be far worse that the six percent
fall in arrivals currently projected. As for Hong Kong, China, despite
a steadily improving arrivals outlook, its receipts are down 30 percent
on 1997's level. Industry analysts, meanwhile, all seem to agree that while
there are clear signs of a revival in tourism in some countries of the
region, yield is likely to remain severely depressed for some time to come.
Markets & Destinations
According to the latest survey by travel research consultancy JRA Data & Forecasts, Singapore's Changi airport is considered the best in the world for shops and variety of goods for sale, while Dubai comes out top for best prices. No other Pacific Asia airport was rated among the world's best airports for shopping by the 10,000-plus business travellers polled for the survey. However, Singapore, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok were all ranked among the top 10 airports in terms of prices.
Hotels & Resorts
The Japanese have never been as successful internationally in the hotel business as they have been in other sectors such as the motor industry or electronics. Among the existing hotel groups, Okura and Prince have little international presence and ANA's and Nikko's expansions are currently constrained by the problems of their airline parents. All Nippon Airways has sold its San Francisco and Washington hotels and removed them from ANA Hotels' portfolio.
That leaves Tokyu, which once showed an interest in international expansion-when it started a joint venture with what became an independent Regent Hotels-but which has changed direction significantly since then. It has been reasonably aggressive in terms of regional expansion with its Pan Pacific Hotels, but there are no signs of an aggressive move onto the global stage.
Airline alliances in Pacific Asia are increasing. All Nippon has joined the Star Alliance, as have Air New Zealand and its Australian partner Ansett, and Singapore Airlines is almost a Star member. Cathay Pacific and Qantas have joined Oneworld and Japan Airlines and Cathay have linked with each other. One aspect of alliances has yet to be addressed, however-that of liability regarding code-share flights-although a legal precedent may already have been set.
Just one month before the Swissair crash into the Atlantic, the U.S. Department of Transportation found against Swissair and its code-share partner Delta in a case which occurred earlier this decade. In 1994, the U.S. government had issued an order to stop U.S. airlines overflying Afghanistan-at that time considered a security risk. In 1995 this ban was extended to code-share partners. In other words, a Swissair flight also operating with a Delta flight code was considered a Delta flight, and therefore the over-flight ban applied to the Swissair flight as well. The U.S. decision on that case was to fine Swissair for over-flying Afghani air space. Given this precedent, would Delta also share responsibility for a Swissair flight that crashed? Or would Cathay Pacific, for instance, be responsible for what happens to its passengers when they fly on other airlines in the same alliance?
Travel Agents & Tour Operators
Japan Travel Bureau says its revenue through convenience stores over a three-month period in early 1998 was US$8.5 million (YI.2 billion)-a fairly modest US$2.8 million monthly, and US$237 per store. Bookings for tour packages, hotels and domestic tourism attractions can be made from terminals, first installed in June 1997 and now available in 12,000 stores throughout the country. However, JTB says almost 50 percent of the total transactions were made during the early mornings or evenings-when JTB offices are closed-so these could be producing additional revenue for the company.
||Increased Pressure on National Promotional Budgets / Government Role in Tourism Promotion / PATA / Nov 1998|
|The Youth Travel Market - Important Generator of Tourism / PATA / Oct 1998|