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Japan, China and Australia Continue to Rank as Most Preferred Destinations

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One in four consumers across Asia Pacific is looking to get their passport stamped and leave for a vacation in the coming six months, according to the findings from a MasterCard survey.

Japan continues to rank as the most popular travel destination, followed by China and Australia for respondents in Asia Pacific.

The latest survey was conducted from 13 September to 11 November 2010 and involved 10,502 consumers from 24 markets across Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. The markets surveyed include: 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.

Spending on travel continues to hold strong in the Middle East region, with 36% of respondents looking to pack their bags and head off for a vacation.

The survey also reveals consumers continued interest in traveling to destinations within the region. A considerable 88% of would-be travelers in Asia Pacific said they are looking to explore close to home. In the Middle East, 56% of respondents planning trips are looking to do so within the region. In contrast to this trend of favoring intraregional destinations, the majority of respondents in Africa are looking to visit Europe (68%) and North America (49%).

Of the 24 markets surveyed, respondents in Hong Kong (58%) appear to be the keenest on taking a trip, followed by UAE (47%) and Kuwait (46%).

It is encouraging to see most markets maintaining a strong appetite for travel, especially with continued interest for trips to destinations within the region, said Yunsok Chang, group executive, Global Products and Solutions, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa, MasterCard Worldwide. With consumers prioritizing travel as an important part of life, we seek to provide cardholders with solutions and privileges that offer them peace of mind and make travelling more enjoyable. We recently launched the Travelex Cash Passport MasterCard in a few markets to offer cardholders the convenience of a prepaid card loaded with foreign currency, allowing them to lock in a favorable exchange rate before setting off for their vacations. We look forward to continue providing cardholders with innovative and convenient solutions to make their getaways all the more special.

Key highlights from the survey include:

Asia Pacific

- Across Asia Pacific, 23% of respondents surveyed are planning a holiday abroad in the next six months, compared to 24% in the previous survey. Slightly more than half (56%) of these respondents deemed international personal air travel as important to them.

- Among the Asia Pacific markets, Hong Kong (58%), Singapore (45%) and Taiwan (35%) have the highest number of respondents looking to travel abroad in the next six months.

- The top five destinations for Asia Pacific travelers are Japan (as indicated by 26% of respondents who plan to spend on travel in the next six months), China (21%), Australia (19%), Hong Kong (18%) and the United States (16%).

- More female respondents (24%) from Asia Pacific are planning to spend on international personal air travel, compared to their male counterparts (21%) in the next six months.

Middle East

- Plans to spend on travel are on the rise in the Middle East with 36% of respondents looking to take a trip in the next six months. This is up from 24% of consumers who said they were planning a trip at the same time last year. A large majority (88%) of respondents looking to travel said they view this as an important priority.

- Among the Middle Eastern markets, United Arab Emirates (47%), Kuwait (46%) and Saudi Arabia (43%) have the highest number of respondents looking to travel abroad in the coming 6 months.

- Overall, the top five destinations for travelers in the Middle East are Egypt (26%), UAE (20%), Syria (16%), Saudi Arabia (14%) and Lebanon (12%).

Africa

- In the Africa region, of the 17% willing to spend on international personal air travel, 87% view this as an important priority.

- Among the African markets, respondents in Nigeria (38%) and Kenya (17%) appear to have the highest propensity to travel.

- In contrast to the other regions, the top destinations for travelers in Africa are outside the region: U.S.A (36%), United Kingdom (30%), Canada (22%) and South Africa (22%).

- More women in Africa (72%) are looking to travel to Europe compared to their male counterparts (64%). Destinations within Asia Pacific seemed to be popular among the male respondents in Africa, with 38% of them choosing these destinations compared to 21% of the female respondents.

MasterCard also has a range of offers lined up for this coming travel season including the following tie-ups and promotions:

 Lufthansa Airlines: MasterCard cardholders can enjoy discounts of up to 7% for economy air tickets purchased online, when departing from one of 11 countries in Asia Pacific, to any destination.

 Starwood: MasterCard cardholders, who are members of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), stand a chance to earn one Free Weekend Night Award at more than 250 Starwood Hotels worldwide, including Sheraton, Westin and St Regis. To qualify, guests simply need to use their MasterCard cards to pay for at least three stays in any one of the participating hotels.

 Accor: MasterCard cardholders stand a chance to have their stay reimbursed when they book a consecutive three night stay at any of the 168 participating Accor Hotels in Asia Pacific. Cardholders who use their MasterCard cards to settle the payment will be rewarded with one free night, having to pay for just two out of the three nights and will be eligible to a draw to win the value of their stay back.

The above promotions are subject to certain terms and conditions.

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