By Susie Reese
Pacific Asia will welcome one and half times the U.S. population this year.
According to the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), a not-for profit association comprised of almost 200 governmental bodies and travel industry companies, the Asia Pacific region will be accepting 33 million more travelers by the end of 2015 than 2014, bringing the total to 547 million people. The U.S. is expected to deliver an addition 1.5 million travelers to Asia Pacific destinations this year.
“We’re growing Asia every year,” reports Erica Scannelli, GOGO international travel leader. “Thailand and Bali are consistent favorites – especially for honeymoons – but we’re also seeing growth in Vietnam and Cambodia.”
PATA concurs, stressing Southeast Asia as an important region for American travelers, especially Malaysia and Thailand.
Scannelli attributes the rise in Asian travel to the value, variety, and even convenience of the destinations.
Notes Scannelli, “In most of Asia, the dollar stretches very far. The average traveler can eat, drink, and shop in Asia for half the price of Europe, even considering the weaker Euro. And if you’re talking about a trip between seven and 14 days, that can add up!”
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The hotel pricing is also cheaper in Asia than other parts of the world, whereas a private villa with a plunge pool at a five-star hotel in Phuket can start at $300 a night whereas a room at Sandals can start at $1000. Scannelli explains the savings also includes food, drinks, and even souvenirs when comparing Asia travel to European vacations.
Though the airtime is longer from the U.S. to Asian cities than most European or Caribbean destinations, many must-see cities are accessible with nonstop flights, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, and Shanghai.
Finally, Scannelli explains that similar to Europe, one single city offers travelers a variety of experiences, such as ancient and modern hotspots, trendy and traditional eateries, adventurous or relaxing trips.
Emphasizes Scannelli, “From just one location in Bali with no additional moving required, you can take a cooking class, visit temples, go white water rafting, horseback ride, shop at a traditional market, take a day cruise/snorkel tour, ride an elephant, climb a mountain at sunrise, have a lobster dinner on the beach, get a massage, take a yoga class, and more.”
While Cambodia and Thailand are American favorite destinations, CEO Mario Hardy expects some Asia Pacific to see a greater influx of travelers.
“Destinations to watch this year include Palau, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea as their individual growth rates are expected to be around 20% or even higher.”