Pacific Asia Travel Association CEO Mario Hardy gives his “low down” on the current scenario

What are the key tourism trends in Asia? We put the question to Mario Hardy, CEO of the Pacific Asia Travel Association…

Tourism numbers in Asia have increased steadily for the past decade and many destinations have struggled to keep pace with infrastructure development in popular tourist areas. Some are trying to catch up, but can’t keep up with the pace of the growth numbers. One solution is to encourage the dispersal of tourists to secondary destinations, a solution that is being encouraged in Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and other countries.


What are the main trends concerning China – outbound?

In 2015, there were 116 million outbound Chinese travellers, a number that is continuously increasing. According to “COTRI”, there are 280 million Chinese that have the financial means to travel overseas. This means that there are still another 164 million that could potentially travel. The devaluation of the yuan and the financial crisis currently hitting China is causing concerns in the industry. The reality is that outbound travel in China will continue to grow, although possibly at a slower pace in 2016.

Is Myanmar having “growing pains” when it comes to tourism?

Myanmar tourism infrastructure development is being outpaced by its fast growth in tourism arrivals. The country still has enormous potential and it is believed that in the next decade it could be amongst the leading destinations in Asia. There is still much need for tourism investments across the country if it is sustain the growth rate.

Which DMOs appear to have the most assertive promotional campaigns in Asia?

I must say that personally I’ve found the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” campaign to be memorable and engaging. You hear the first few words and can easily finish the sentence. You hear the song and know that it is about the Philippines. However in terms of effectiveness and results, I must say that Thailand has done extremely well in the past year with its “Thainess” campaign and the promotion of the 12 hidden gems of Thailand.