Visa Asia Pacific reports 19% Growth in Tourist Spend for Third Quarter 2005

Travel News Asia 8 December 2005

Visa Asia Pacific today announced that tourists to the region spent US$5.7 billion on their Visa cards in the third quarter of this year, representing a 19% increase over the same period in 2004.

Tourists from the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong were the biggest spenders, accounting for 54% of the total Visa spend in Asia Pacific between the months of July and September 2005.

The increased tourism spending clearly demonstrates the resilience of the Asia Pacific economies, said James Murray, Visa Asia Pacifics executive vice president for South and Southeast Asia, Given the importance of the tourism industry to the region, Visa will continue to work with the travel, hospitality and retail sectors to help ensure this growth is sustainable as our cardholders, merchants and business partners all stand to benefit.

The top six destinations that benefited from the increase in inbound tourist spend over the third quarter this year were Australia ($1.1 billion), China ($704 million), Thailand ($634 million), Hong Kong ($519 million), Singapore ($430 million) and Japan ($418 million). China recorded the highest spend growth of 29% year-on-year, followed by Singapore with 27%, Hong Kong at 26%, Thailand at 15%, Australia at 13% and Japan up 12%.

When compared with the same period last year, tourist spending in China has exceeded that in Thailand, making it the region's second largest destination market for tourist spending. Singapore has taken Japan's spot as the fifth biggest destination market for tourist spending.

By region, Asia Pacific cardholders made up 46% of the total inbound spend. European Union cardholders accounted for 28%, US cardholders made up 20% of the total, while cardholders from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa contributed 4% of the total and Canadians accounted for 2%.

The average spend per transaction was $153. The three biggest individual spenders per transaction were the Russians ($307), Chinese ($207) and Norwegians ($195).

Visitors to Asia Pacific markets used their Visa cards mainly on retail goods (25%), accommodation (21%), transportation (11%), sports and leisure activities (6%), and restaurants (5%). The top retail merchants were clothing stores ($292 million), department and discount stores ($243 million) and jewelry, watches and crystal shops ($200 million). Tourists also used their cards to withdraw cash and pay for government, legal and social services.

Of the total inbound spend in Asia Pacific, 6.6% or $377 million occurred at online merchants, representing a growth of 71% over the third quarter in 2004. The number of online transactions also increased exponentially from 1.9 million in third quarter 2004 to 3.6 million for the same period in 2005, a 94% year-on-year gain.

International cardholders made $1.3 billion worth in ATM and over-the-counter cash withdrawals and approximately 37 million transactions between July and September 2005.

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