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Asean@50; unhappy birthday?

An excerpt from our monthly Travel Business Analyst newsletter.


The reclusive Asean travel secretariat (ATS) has reiterated its 2017 visitor target for the 10 Asean destinations at 121mn. Yet the figures it has published indicate that it expects slower growth in this celebratory year than in the ‘normal’ year 2016.


I’ll explain.


The forecast is related to what is named ‘Asean@50’ (A50). This is a so-called (non-funded) promotional campaign this year to encourage greater visitation into the 10 Asean destinations – to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Asean political association.


We believe few travellers are motivated by political birthdays. In 2015, the visitor element of Singapore’s 50th-year independence/foundation celebrations was a flop. Arrivals growth that year was just 1%; something which no-one now mentions.


Ironically, A50 was officially launched in Singapore, indicating that nothing has been learned from Singapore’s birthday failure.


One year ago, ATS released data that would mean visitor totals for the 10 destinations in 2015 totalled 92.3mn. Since then, ATS has changed that total to 109mn and now to 108mn.


We estimate that there was strong growth in visitors in 2016 – probably 8.5%, even though that was below the 12.8% forecast that we calculated after adding up DMO forecasts at the start of 2016.


That +8.5% would put the 2016 Asean visitor total at 117mn – based on ATS’s restated 2015 total of 108mn. From there to the targetted 121mn this year would mean 3.2% growth this year.


We have seen no commentary that this means, in effect, that ATS forecasts slower growth this A50 year than in 2016, a ‘normal’ year.



The Fox

Remember, I’m an industry expert in the parallel world.