Despite uncertainties in the global economic environment, Asia is poised for growth in the travel and tourism industry. The same trend was noted by the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, which indicated that Asia will see growth of 4 to 6 percent year-on-year in 2012, outstripping the global average of 3 to 4 per cent.
Southeast Asia has already registered a 13 per cent increase in foreign arrivals for the first two months of 2012, according to preliminary data released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).
One of the factors contributing to the increased domestic and regional travel in the Asia Pacific is the burgeoning middle class and higher disposable incomes. According to the Abacus International Report, travel by the middle class will grow as Asia expects to add at least an additional 2.5 billion people to its middle class by 2030.
“Asia continues to be a key engine of growth for tourism, and travel and tourism businesses are increasingly venturing to Asia to capitalize on the opportunities there,” said Ms Neeta Lachmandas, Assistant Chief Executive of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
Indeed, billion-dollar investments are catering to the increasing affluence of Asian travellers. Singapore for example, has attracted tourism investments ranging from the two Integrated Resorts by Las Vegas Sands and Genting Group, to more hotels, which contributed to an increase in the number of hotels from 268 to 304 by the end of last year. Over in Shanghai, the Shanghai Disney Resort is expected to be completed in 2015. It is clear that investors from within and outside Asia are gradually expanding their footprint in the world's largest and most populous continent.
Global hoteliers have been quick to identify windows of opportunity by building to cater to the upward demand ahead. In June 2012, The Holiday Inn Express marked the brand's first foray into Southeast Asia with the opening of The Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam. The fast-growing hotel chain also announced plans to open 12 new properties in the region in the next two years.
Another pocket of growth in hotels is China. According to STR Global, which tracks the supply and demand data for the hotel industry, China will account for 56 per cent of about 410,000 hotel rooms in the pipeline for Asia-Pacific. Therefore, having a keen sense of the opportunities in Asia is crucial for business leaders who are looking to expand their reach.
TravelRave: Exploring Asia’s travel and tourism opportunities
To enable more travel business leaders to leverage the abundant opportunities in Asia, STB has taken the lead to gather key influencers from the industry by creating TravelRave, a one-stop travel trade festival that not only provides the opportunity for insightful exchanges about Asia through multiple travel events within a week, but also offers a platform for participants to connect with others from the different sectors of the travel supply chain.
For instance, the inaugural Tourism Destination Investment Conference Asia will focus on Hotel Investments and Tourism Infrastructure Development across Asia. This event was first introduced in 2011 as a half-day conference and has since evolved into a three-day event this year. While hoteliers may form the bulk of the participants, experts from other sectors are also expected to attend the event.