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Intra-Regional Destinations More Popular with Asia Pacific and Middle East Travelers

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A recent MasterCard survey has confirmed the widely held belief that intra-regional destinations have become more popular than destinations further afield.

 The survey was conducted by MasterCard between 1 October to 9 November 2009 and involved 10,623 consumers from 241 markets (Australia, China, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam). Data collection was via personal, online and computer aided telephone interviews, with the questionnaire translated to local language wherever appropriate and necessary.

Of the top 10 likely destinations in the next six months for Asia Pacific respondents, eight were intra-regional, with Japan (25%), Australia and China (both 22%) topping the list. For Middle East respondents, six of the top 10 likely destinations were intra-regional led by Egypt (27%) and the UAE (19%).

Africa respondents who plan to travel in the next six months provided a contrast to their counterparts in Asia Pacific and the Middle East. European destinations were the most popular (72% of respondents) with six appearing in the top 10, although the US (33%), Canada and the UK (both 24%) topped the list.

Across Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, one in five consumers surveyed plans to spend on international personal air travel in the next six months. Of the 24 markets surveyed, Hong Kong respondents (59%) topped the list of consumers planning trips abroad, followed by Singapore (42%), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (37%), Nigeria and New Zealand (35% each).

Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor, Asia Pacific, MasterCard Worldwide said, “Travel is firmly ingrained in the lifestyles of consumers in Asia Pacific, and Kenya, Morocco and Nigeria were added as new markets in this latest survey although travel patterns have changed moderately, we see that consumers’ appetite for travel has held through the recession. The fact that Asia has been the region that has been the least affected by the global recession also means that spending on travel by Asian consumers will likely rebound more strongly in the coming months as well. In the Middle East, although fewer consumers plan to spend on travel in the next six months compared to six months ago, we see that they attach a high level of importance to this item of discretionary spend.

“It appears that following the economic recession, intra-regional destinations have become popular among consumers in Asia Pacific and the Middle East looking to take advantage of less expensive travel options. With connectivity among key tourist destinations within Asia Pacific and within the Middle East becoming stronger, as well as frequent airline promotions, consumers have become more inclined to explore destinations closer to home.”

Asia Pacific

Across the 14 markets surveyed in Asia Pacific, 22% of the respondents surveyed are planning to holiday abroad in the next six months, compared to 20% six months ago. Some 57% of these respondents stated that spending on international personal air travel was a very important or important item of discretionary spend for them.

Intra-regional destinations are highly popular among these travelers, with 88% of them planning to holiday in destinations within Asia Pacific for the next six months. Eight of the top 10 destinations chosen by the travelers are within the region, compared to seven in the last survey.

Women in Asia Pacific (24% of female respondents) are more inclined to travel abroad for holidays in the next six months than men (20% of male respondents).

Middle East

Almost a quarter (24%) of Middle East respondents plan to spend on international personal air travel in the next six months. Although fewer plan on traveling compared to six months ago (33%), Middle East consumers are the most enthusiastic travelers across Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Some 89% of these consumers cited it as a very important or important discretionary spending item for them.

The popularity of intra-regional destinations has grown among these travelers as well, with six of the top ten destinations they have  chosen being in the Middle East, compared to five in the last survey. Of the respondents planning to holiday abroad in the next six months, 63% plan to visit destinations within the Middle East.

More male respondents (25%) than female respondents (22%) plan on taking a  trip abroad in the next six months. Women respondents in the Middle East are more partial to intra-regional destinations, with 69% of the would-be female travelers planning to visit destinations  within the Middle East and Africa compared to 61% of the male travelers.

Respondents from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (37%) are the keenest on traveling abroad, followed by consumers from Kuwait (29%)  and the UAE (27%).

Africa

Some 17% of consumers surveyed in Africa plan to spend on international personal air travel in the next six months, with 90% of these consumers citing this as a very important or important discretionary spending for them. Respondents in Nigeria (35%) top the Africa list of consumers planning holidays abroad, followed by Morocco (20%) and Kenya (10%). South Africa has seen a substantial drop in the number of respondents planning on personal travel abroad in the six month period ahead, from 23% in the last survey to 3% this time.

An equal percentage of women and men (both 17%) plan to spend on travel abroad in the six months ahead. European destinations are more popular with the female African travelers (76%) than male (69%).

“Africa is a continent on the move today, and consumer spending is rising along with economic growth and income. International travel will accordingly expand in scope and frequency in the coming years,” added Dr. Hedrick-Wong.

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