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Tourism Industry Sees 13 Percent Growth in Visitor Spending on Visa Cards in Asia Pacific
Hong Kong and Singapore affirm status as key shopping destinations
Visa Asia Pacific released new information that shows international travelers to and within the region spent a total of US$6.8 billion on their Visa cards during the first quarter of 2006 - 13 percent more than the same period a year ago. The increase in spending can be attributed not only to more arrivals but also to an increase in the issuance of Visa cards across the region. In Asia Pacific alone, there were 287 million Visa cards in circulation in the first quarter of 2006, an increase of 17 percent over the year before.
Of the $6.8 billion spent by tourists in Asia Pacific, 24 percent was in the retail sector, with clothing merchants, department and discount stores, and jewelry, watches and crystal shops proving most popular. Key shopping markets in Asia Pacific, Hong Kong and Singapore retained their attractiveness for shoppers. Fifty-two percent of the $575 million spent on Visa cards in Hong Kong was in the retail sector – the highest proportion in the region. The influx of mainland Chinese shoppers into Hong Kong over the Chinese New Year period contributed to the large amount spent. In Singapore, 30 percent of the $490 million in visitor spending was in the retail industry, in particular, consumer electronics.
“The abundance of high quality destinations in Asia Pacific with some of the world’s best shopping, recreation and accommodation, coupled with more frequent flights and destinations covered by low-cost carriers are all contributing to the increase in visitor numbers and spending around the region. Rising airline fuel costs appear not to have deterred travelers from coming to Asia Pacific,” said Visa Asia Pacific’s executive vice president for Corporate Relations, Paul Dowling.
By region, Asia Pacific Visa cardholders were the biggest spenders accounting for 39 percent of total visitor spending. They were followed closely by European Union cardholders at 35 percent with US cardholders contributing 19 percent. These proportions are similar to those reported for the same period last year.
Individually, long-haul visitors from the US and the UK were the highest spenders in the region, followed by visitors from Japan, Australia and Hong Kong. Collectively, visitors from these five markets accounted for 53 percent of total tourist spending on Visa cards.
The top five destination markets in terms of attracting the tourist dollar were:
· Australia ($1.3 billion – up four percent)
· Thailand ($964 million – up 26 percent) – Its world-class resorts and warm hospitality, the friendliness of the Thais and the desire of travelers to help the locals recover from the tsunami helped boost the number of visitors and spending in the market
· China ($628 million - up 18 percent) - the influx of Korean and Japanese travelers to China in the first quarter contributed to the strong growth in spending, with the vast majority of Japanese tourists attracted to China’s historical and cultural sites .
· Hong Kong ($575 million - up 11 percent)
· New Zealand ($510 million - up five percent)
Visa cardholders from China chalked up the highest average spending per transaction at $223, followed closely by visitors from Hong Kong at $205, attributable to their heavy spend on education fees, largely in Australia.
“Despite strong growth over the first quarter, our recently released Asia Travel Intentions Survey 2006 indicates that these numbers could be so much stronger. Unfortunately and surprisingly, many potential long-haul travelers in Europe and North America are remarkably ill-informed about the region’s recovery from the 2004 tsunami. When we factor in increased concern about terrorism, it is clear that there is a very strong need to equip them with current, accurate and dependable information about the region. Asia Pacific has a great deal going for it, but filling this information gap would undoubtedly bring in extra tourism dollars,” said Dowling.
About Visa: Visa connects cardholders, merchants and financial institutions through the world's largest electronic payments network. Visa products allow buyers and sellers to conduct commerce with ease and confidence in both the physical and virtual worlds. As an association owned by 20,000 member financial institutions, Visa is committed to the sustained growth of electronic payment systems to support the needs of all stakeholders and to drive economic growth. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com .
About Visa Asia Pacific: In Asia Pacific, Visa has a greater market share than all other payment card brands combined with 62 percent of all card purchases at the point of sale being made using Visa cards. There are currently 287 million Visa-branded cards in the region. For the 12 months ended March 2006, US$595 billion was spent at point of sale or withdrawn from ATMs in Asia Pacific using Visa cards. Visa Asia Pacific's internet address is www.visa-asia.com
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