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Fri, Apr 03, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Asia’s tourism industry is ‘vulnerable’ to a shock

DPA , BANGKOK

Asia’s tourism industry may bounce back from the global financial crisis sooner than other regions, but it is in such a fragile state that another shock could be disastrous, a senior industry official said yesterday.

The Pacific Asia Travel Association, an industry lobby, forecast an average 4.2 percent annual growth in tourist arrivals from this year through to 2011, with a mild recovery showing later this year or early next year.

Tourist arrivals across the region are expected to grow by only 3.5 percent this year, the group said in a report released yesterday.

However, tourist businesses in the Asia-Pacific region were “extremely vulnerable” so that one more shock, such as the scare over the outbreak of SARS, and “the wheels will fall off our industry,” said John Koldowski, the body’s director for strategic intelligence.

Most countries in the region have acted quickly to promote themselves as relatively cheap places to visit and have tried to encourage domestic tourism, the report said.

This strategy proved most successful in South Korea, were arrivals were up by about 25 percent in January and February year-on-year, while Taiwan and India were able to slow the fall in arrivals.

However, numbers were shrinking in China, Thailand and Japan, which was hit hardest with arrivals down 40 percent in February.

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