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Opportunities Aplenty In The Tourism Sector

New Report Highlights Asia As A Major Travel Hotspot

Here is another reason why the 21st century belongs to Asia. According to a report released last month by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the world’s top 10 fastest growing tourism cities are all on this continent.

Topping the list is Chongqing (14% growth per year), with the Chinese cities of Guangzhou (13.1%), Shanghai (12.8%), Beijing (12%) and Chengdu (11.2%) following behind. The remaining ones are Manila (10.9%), New Delhi (10.8%), Shenzhen (10.7%), Kuala Lumpur (10.1%) and Jakarta (10%). Interestingly, their growth rate far outpaces that of the world average of 4%.

The implications of this report, says WTTC’s President & CEO Gloria Guevara, is that not only do these cities impact their country’s tourism sector, but are also “an important generator of economic growth and jobs within the cities themselves”.

“With this level of forecast growth, the importance of investment in long term planning, infrastructure and sustainable public policies cannot be underestimated. It is vital that city authorities understand the economic impact of travel and tourism, GDP and employment contribution, and not just visitor arrivals, as they seek to develop new products and opportunities to increase traveller spend and sustainable growth,” says Guevara. 

WTTC’s report, entitled Asia Pacific City Travel & Tourism Impact, also highlights how cities have varying levels of dependency on domestic and international travellers. In Macau for instance, some 97.3% of spending comes from foreign visitors. On the other end of the scale is Chongqing with 5.5%. 

In certain countries, there is also the phenomenon of only a few cities attracting the bulk of visitors. This is most evident in Japan, where Tokyo and Osaka are the primary “attractions” for its country, with tourism receipts in other parts of the country almost negligible.

Guevara say there are plenty of opportunities for the private sector, “They can create more products and services to increase the number of experiences that visitors can have in their respective cities and countries. One way to do this is to partner with the government.

“For countries that only depend on a few key cities, there is the chance to look at how to diversify outside of those tourist areas. Examine the numbers of domestic versus international tourists and understand how to balance out the figures. Look to other cities to learn their best practices.”

While considering the opportunities in travel and tourism, it is important to keep the issue of sustainability front and centre. Guevara reveals that there are plans by the WTTC to focus more on it.

“Planning is important. We have to protect our assets and recognise that even as there is potential in under capacity, we need to be careful on how we leverage them. Investment in any kinds of infrastructure will have a significant impact on sustainability.”

She points to the example of Chengdu, where 50 pandas live in a reserve, “Already, it is receiving 20,000 visitors a day, but with the city expected to have an annual tourism growth rate of 11.2%, how will in manage?”

Clearly, the opportunities in travel and tourism are aplenty but it will be wise for everyone to move forward with care and caution to minimise the negative impact on the cities.