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Thailand is Top Destination in Asia Travel Intentions Survey

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Thailand is Top Destination in Asia Travel Intentions Survey

Visa International Asia Pacific (Visa) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) have released the ‘Asia Travel Intentions Survey 2007' which reports that of those intending international travel in the next two years, 52% were considering Asia as their next travel destination. This is a 9% increase on the previous year's survey results and an 18% increase over the results in 2005.

The annual joint research issued by Visa and PATA surveys more than 5,000 international travelers from 10 key travel markets worldwide and looks at the travel intentions of the respondents as well as the drivers and barriers to their travel. For the first time, India was included in the study this year, reinforcing the country's growing status as a potential inbound and outbound tourism source, as evidenced by 4.4 million visitors to India and 8.3 million outbound Indian travelers in 2006.

Around two-thirds of those surveyed had already visited Asia, 47% of whom had been to Thailand. In fact, Thailand was again rated as the number one destination on travelers' holiday lists, followed by Japan and China. Despite international media attention on Thailand's civil unrest in the weeks before the survey was conducted, 50% or more of those interviewed in each of the 10 markets surveyed chose Thailand as their most likely holiday spot. Thailand's reputation as a relaxing place where people can enjoy the local culture, natural beauty and friendly people continued to increase in the minds of those looking to travel to Asia.

Perceptions of Indonesia were again influenced by safety concerns, namely the 2004 Tsunami and potential terrorism attacks. More than half of all respondents (56%) believed that Indonesia was still severely affected by the December 2004 Tsunami while 50% identified the country as subject to terrorist attacks. China was the main destination identified as being affected by bird flu (58%), followed by Vietnam (37%), Thailand (35%) and Indonesia (34%). One emerging trend observed from the 2007 survey was a desire for travelers to participate in environmentally and culturally-sensitive travel. Almost nine out of ten respondents said they would prefer to choose tourism products that showed concern about the impact tourism had on local cultures and customers and also protected the natural environment.

For those destinations looking to maximize tourism revenue, using a card to obtain cash while traveling was the preferred option for all markets except Korea. In fact, the preference was for credit or debit cards ahead of cash and travelers cheques combined.

"Understanding and accommodating travelers' payment preferences are important when you consider that the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that tourism and travel will account for more than 10% of Asia Pacific's gross domestic product in 2007, which equates to around US$1.3 trillion in economic activity. It is important that we create the payment infrastructure for travelers to make payments the way in which they are most comfortable," said Visa International Executive Vice President for South and Southeast Asia James Murray.

"What this survey has found is that one in two people who intend to travel overseas in the next two years are looking at Asia as their most likely destination. With events such as the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, unique cultural experiences and the importance of relaxing and environmentally-friendly travel options, it is not surprising that the region continues to attract travelers from around the world."

Key highlights of the 2007 report were:

Asia as a holiday destination: Asian markets (China, Korea, Japan and India) had the highest percentage of respondents to have already visited Asia. At least three quarters of respondents from these markets had traveled within the region. The least experienced travelers to Asia were from the United States.

One in five people listed Thailand it as their most likely destination with 84% of Swedish respondents the most likely to consider the country for a holiday over the next two years. Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Sri Lanka were the least likely holiday destinations for those who participated in the survey.

Beijing 2008 Olympic Games: In addition to attracting visitors to Beijing, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will also be beneficial to destinations in China and the region as a whole with an expected increase in travelers because of the Games. While 19% of respondents said they were likely to visit Beijing for the Olympics, 74% of these respondents would consider visiting other destinations in Asia after the Games, of which Hong Kong (58%), Japan (32%) and Singapore (31%) would be the most likely destinations.

Responsible tourism and cultural interests: In tandem with increased general awareness about environmental concerns, the notion of ‘responsible' tourism was a consideration for those intending to travel to Asia. More than 80% of respondents indicated they would be inclined to choose environmentally-friendly products when planning a holiday.

Additionally, more than 50% of respondents would pay extra to experience environmentally and culturally-sensitive travel, although the amounts that were considered acceptable varied between the markets.

One in two German, Indian, Chinese and Korean travelers considering Asia as their next travel destination would pay up to 10% more for culturally or environmentally-sensitive holidays. More than 20% of Chinese and Korean travelers would pay up to a 25% premium for responsible tourism options, while six percent of Indian travelers would pay up to 50% more for environmentally sensitive travel.

Preferred payment methods: Respondents in nine of the ten markets preferred to use their credit or debit card to obtain cash when traveling in Asia. Travelers from China led the way with 77% preferring to use a card over cash conversion or travellers cheques. This was followed closely by the Swedes (62%) and Australians (62%). These findings demonstrate the importance of having a payment infrastructure that makes travel as convenient as possible, as well as helps increase the average spend of visitors to a destination Only Koreans, at slightly under half, preferred to use cash when traveling.

Barriers to visiting Asia: Safety when traveling is the key area of concern for most respondents. Nearly half (47%) of respondents identified terrorism as the top barrier to travel. The destinations most commonly identified as being affected by terrorism were Indonesia (50%), Sri Lanka (37%) and the Philippines (36%). Political unrest (39%) and government / media travel advisories (38%) were  the other most significant concern. Notably, the 2004 Tsunami now appears to be only of minor significance with only 3% of respondents citing it as their greatest barrier to travel.

PATA President and CEO Peter de Jong said, "Recent events around the world have increased tension between different cultures and religions. In an atmosphere of conflict and misunderstanding, the travel and tourism industry can be an incredibly powerful force for conciliation. One of the trends identified in the ‘Asia Travel Intentions Survey 2007' is how an overwhelming majority of respondents in every origin market believe that traveling increases their appreciation of other cultures. Visa and PATA have a longstanding commitment to work with tourism bodies and operators to create the opportunity to break down travel barriers in the region."

The Asia Travel Intentions 2007 Survey

Commissioned by Visa Asia Pacific and PATA, the research conducted between 20 February and 2 March 2007, using an online methodology. The research was conducted by GMI Research in 10 countries: Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Sweden, the UK and the US. A total of 5,050 respondents were identified and categorized as committed or possible Asia travelers and were asked to comment on the following potential barriers: travel experience and intentions, attitudes to travel in Asia and particular destinations, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, perceptions of negative events and culturally and environmentally sustainable tourism.

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Thailand Is Top Destination In Asia Travel Intentions Survey