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International Visa Card Spending Indicates Tourism Returning to Tsunami-Affected Markets

Travel News Asia 26 December 2005

According to the latest tourist spending data released by Visa Asia Pacific, tourism recovery and spending growth in the Tsunami-affected markets are consistent with that of the rest of Asia Pacific.

One year later, new figures indicate that most of the countries affected by the 26 December 2004 Tsunami are recording year-on-year cardholder spending growth. In addition, one of the tourist destinations that has struggled to recover, Phuket, has recorded year-on-year tourism spend growth for only the third time this year.

Visitor card spending in four of the tourist destinations hit by the tsunami India, Malaysia, Maldives and Thailand recorded international cardholder spending growth compared with the same period just prior to the 26 December Tsunami. For the week ending 11 December, India and Thailand recorded double-digit tourism spend growth of 23 and 12% respectively. Overall, the Tsunami-affected markets recorded cardholder spending representing approximately 8% growth, which is the same as all of Asia Pacific.

According to James Murray, executive vice president South and Southeast Asia, Visa Asia Pacific, Visas latest data clearly shows that while there tourism is recovering in the Tsunami hit countries, some of the instability in these markets and the region are due to other factors.

Murray cited issues ranging from high fuel costs leading to increased airfares to global terrorism concerns.

While Indonesia and Sri Lanka had earlier recorded tourism spending growth in 2005, for the four weeks ending 11 December, they reported year-on-year tourism spending losses of 2 and 11% respectively.

Phuket Returning to Growth

For only the third time this year, Phuket is reporting year-on-year growth, in part, due to Thailands strong tourism industry.

According to Murray, Phuket is one of the tourist destinations we have been monitoring most closely because it was such a strong tourism destination throughout 2004 leading up to the Tsunami. Throughout most of 2005, it has not been able to sustain growth, so it is encouraging that for the week ending 11 December it recorded a year-on-year growth of 8%.

To help sustain inbound tourism into the Tsunami-affected markets, Visa has been sharing its tourism spending data with merchants, national tourism organizations and other groups that rely heavily on international visitors.

Murray said that traveler perceptions are catching up with reality, Many of the destinations affected by the Tsunami have been ready for tourists. It is a good sign for 2006 that these holiday destinations are now welcoming guests at sustainable levels.

Earlier this year, Visa issued its Post-Tsunami Global Travel Intentions Research for the World Tourism Organization's Emergency Task Force, to address the urgent need for better understanding of travel intentions to Asia among travelers from key markets, and the barriers that may be keeping them away.

With this information, Visa encouraged national tourism organizations, policy makers, tourism operators and merchants in the Tsunami-affected countries to better address the most salient issues and concerns among global travelers, restore tourist confidence and stimulate travel back to their countries as quickly as possible.

See other recent news regarding: Phuket, Tsunami, Visa, Credit Cards

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