According to a new Visa Asia
Pacific tourism spending report, the biggest increase in tourist spending in
Asia in 2005 was in China, where Visa cardholders spent US$636 million more last
year than they did in 2004.
Destinations that drew the most tourist dollars in 2005 were Australia,
Thailand and China. China is expected to overtake Thailand this year as the
market receiving the second-largest amount of tourist dollars. China had
attracted more tourist spending than Thailand in the last two quarters of 2005
and, over the next few months, is expected to report accelerated growth as
interest is fueled by the nation's major marketing and tourism campaigns in the
run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The report, entitled "Recent trends in spending by visitors to Asia Pacific,"
found Asia Pacific Visa cardholders to be the largest international spenders in
the region at US$10 billion, 43 percent of total international spending.
"The report shows the growing importance of tourism to Asia Pacific
economies; in 2005 alone there were more than 320 million visitors to Asia
Pacific who spent up to US$110 billion in the region," said Paul Dowling,
executive vice president for Visa International Asia Pacific.
"This income is vital to the region's economic well-being. We hope that by
sharing our comprehensive data of where and how visitors spend their money, we
can provide businesses, governments and tourism authorities with the information
they need to develop their strategies and business models."
Just two years ahead of the Beijing Olympics, robust growth in tourist
spending has been recorded in China. In 2005, China's total Visa tourist
spending grew 31 percent over 2004 to US$2.7 billion. Asia Pacific Visa
cardholders were the biggest international spenders, accounting for more than
half of all international spending in China at US$1.5 billion.
Visa cardholders from the European Union were the second biggest spenders in
China, spending US$629 million, representing 23 percent of the country's tourist
spending on Visa cards. Latin America was the fastest growing source region with
75 percent growth in spending in China, reflecting closer business and cultural
exchanges between the two regions. Among Visa cardholders, the biggest
individual spending nations in China were the United States and Japan.
Among destinations within China, Shanghai attracted the most visitors in
terms of spending in 2005. The thriving commercial hub drew both sightseers and
business travelers, who spent US$587 million on their Visa cards, followed by
Beijing with US$490 million, although this ranking order is likely to change in
the near future.
"A tourism juggernaut is headed towards Beijing, which is forecast to receive
4.4 million overseas visitors spending 4.5 billion US dollars in 2008," said
Dowling. "With China showing every indication of being the region's second
largest tourism market in the next few months, it is critical that Visa and its
Chinese member banks work together to help ensure that the payment
infrastructure is ready to maximize fully this historical opportunity, so that
more visitors to China can pay the way they do so back home.
"So far we are seeing solid results through our strategic partnership with
the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Tourism, where we are helping the city generate
more inbound travel and tourism revenue, as well as working to help improve
Beijing's payment environment."