Good news for travel marketers – Asia’s middle class is expected to grow almost 500% to 3.4 billion people over the next 20 years, according to a report from the United Nations World Tourism Organization and Tourism Australia, which has five Southeast Asian countries in its sights: Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.  “The crucial factor behind the growth of travel out of the Asian markets is the increasing middle class,” TA Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said.

In 2012, these five countries accounted for US$ 47 billion in international tourism expenditure, up from US$ 25 billion in 2006, according to the report.

“Indonesia stands out because of the size of the country and its population. Whilst it has a long way to go to realise its potential, Indonesia is making rapid progress and is very much on our radar,” said Mr McEvoy.

“Singapore is notable for its wealth and is by far the largest of the five markets in terms of spending.

“It’s also a more mature market, the only country in this study where outbound travel – long-haul and short-haul – is already a reality for the majority of residents.

“Malaysia is similar to Singapore in terms of the current levels of outbound travel, but at the moment those trips are predominantly short-haul, often the same day.

“The spending power of Malaysians is not as high as Singaporeans, but higher than in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, so there’s good potential here too.

“Thailand has arguably been hampered in recent times by political upheavals and environmental catastrophes, such as recent flooding, but nevertheless still presents opportunities for economic and outbound tourism growth.

“Vietnam has a large population, but average incomes are still very low.

“In terms of current spend and visitation, is by far the smallest of the five markets at the moment, but also the fastest growing,” Mr McEvoy said.

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