2023 recovery best-case scenario

BANGKOK, 10 February 2021: International visitor arrivals to and within the Asia Pacific region could return to 96% of 2019 levels but not before 2023 if PATA’s mildest scenario proves to be accurate.

If not the hospitality and tourism companies face the prospects of medium and severe scenarios where the return of business in 2023 would be around 74% and 49% respectively of levels they enjoyed in 2019.

That’s the options forecast in the full report of the Asia Pacific Visitor Forecasts 2021-2023 released Tuesday by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

In its introduction to the latest report and forecasts PATA noted. There was “quite a disparity for each of the destination regions of Asia Pacific as well, with the Pacific projected to exceed the 2019 volume of foreign arrivals into that region by a little over 2% in 2023.

Under the medium scenario, that proportion is expected to reach around 78% while under the severe scenario, it is likely to remain at just 52% of the 2019 volume.

The Americas is in a somewhat similar situation, however, as the 2023 proportion of IVAs relative to that of 2019 is still expected to fall short under the mild scenario although only by a minimal margin.

The medium and severe scenarios present a similar reduction in the proportions of IVAs in 2023 relative to 2019, to those of the Pacific.

Asia will experience similar figures to what is expected for the Americas under the mild scenario. However, the medium and severe scenarios could fall back even further. In the latter scenario, for example, the report projects that IVAs into and across the Asia Pacific could fall back to less than half of the 2019 volume by 2023.

The report identifies the immediate concern, for all of the Asia Pacific destination sub-regions under each of the scenarios. 2021 is likely to be another difficult year for international travel movements. Any growth is likely to be extremely uneven, and for some sub-regions may be further below the levels of 2019 and even those of 2020.

South Asia in particular, under this mild scenario, is expected to lose even more arrivals with its relative proportion to 2019, falling to around 14% in 2021, before rebounding strongly in 2022 and 2023.

Under the medium scenario, more destination sub-regions are expected to fall into further decline in 2021 relative to 2019, before turning to some tentative recovery in 2022 and 2023.

Of interest is the finding that China fell from its position of dominance in 2020, but is expected to regain this position from 2021 onwards. Under the severe scenario, this takes a little longer with China returning to the first position in 2022. Similarly, Hong Kong SAR, which after falling to the 12th position in the rankings in 2020, is nevertheless expected to return to third place by 2023, irrespective of the scenario.

In addition, this group of the top five destinations becomes more significant in relative terms, in 2021 at least, as the scenarios change from mild to medium and then to severe.

PATA CEO Mario Hardy stated: “The calendar year 2021 is likely to be difficult for most destinations, with almost 40% of the 39 destinations covered in these forecasts falling even further from the low point of arrival numbers in 2020, even under the mild scenario. In the case of the medium scenario, that proportion is likely to increase to 85% while under the severe scenario, it could well be the case for all 39 destinations.”

“Clearly, a further round of belt-tightening will be needed in the international sector, with more innovation being required in developing what is available in the domestic sector,” he added.

The Forecast Full Report is now available on the PATA website at www.pata.org/research-q1v63g6n2dw/p/asia-pacific-visitor-forecasts-2021-2023.

To view the recent webinar regarding the forecast scenarios, please visit the PATA YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOd49l7vS2