BANGKOK, Thailand -- In an effort to mitigate the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks' impact on tourism, countries in the Asia/Pacific
region should shift their market focus toward domestic and
intraregional travel, a new report shows.
Asian destinations must respond to the reduction in long-haul
flights -- particularly from the U.S. -- with products that are
packaged to attract Asian visitors like those from Japan and other
growth markets, according to Strategic Forecasting, an Austin,
Texas-based global research firm.
Commissioned by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), the
report recommends that destinations in Asia and the Pacific target
the region with "aggressive marketing campaigns." In particular,
the report recommends focusing on Japanese travelers, because of
their "high level of disposable income," and on Europeans, who
accounted for 58% of international tourism last year.
According to the report, "Many Japanese and European tourists
will be avoiding the U.S. and the Middle East and looking for safe
alternative locations. Countries in the Asia/Pacific region should
take advantage of this opportunity to market themselves."
The report cites analysts such as Merrill Lynch, which predicts
global air travel could fall by as much as 10% next year,
surpassing the only other annual decline in global air traffic
since World War II: a 1.5% drop-off in 1991 due to the combined
effects of the Gulf war and the weak economy.
It also cites plans announced by U.S. and European airlines to
ground more than 1,150 flights and to defer airplane orders from
major airplane manufacturers since Sept. 11.
The report says airlines, hotels, tour operators, travel
agencies and other tourism-related businesses need to come up with
strategies to increase regional tourism and pool their resources
A cooperative approach "should allow tourist destinations
throughout the region to benefit from the changing landscape and
will be much more successful at reaching large groups of tourists
in the identified growth markets," the report says.
According to the report, Asian governments are "well aware of
the importance of the tourism industry for providing employment and
foreign exchange, and for securing domestic stability."
As such, governments should be prepared to provide support to
troubled companies and sectors through such measures as tax credits
and low-interest loans as they cope with the downturn in the
Although the current military campaign's focus on South and
Central Asia and the Middle East will have a limited regional
impact on East Asia and the Pacific, countries like Indonesia and
the Philippines may be exceptions, as both have large Islamic
populations and existing threats from separatist and militant
Muslim groups, the report points out.
According to the report, "Although Manila may be gaining the
upper hand over the Abu Sayyaf rebel group, Jakarta is only
starting to feel the effects of fundamentalist, extremist and
militant forces rising in sympathy with Afghanistan -- or merely
exploiting the current chaos for their own purposes."
However, the report warns that even if increased intraregional
travel and tourism is promoted to mitigate the loss of U.S. and
European clientele, domestic unrest "can quickly undermine travel
confidence" throughout Asia and the Pacific.