Travel IT provider Abacus is seeing significant growth in Asian emerging markets such as Myanmar and Kazakhstan and is "cautiously optimistic" for region-wide bookings in 2012.
"Bookings are in positive territory compared with last year. And the first quarter of last year was a very buoyant start," said Robert Bailey, Abacus CEO. "We are quite pleased with what we have seen," he added, pointing out that although the Chinese New Year means making comparisons is problematic, bookings are a few percentage points up on the early part of last year.
"We are expecting bookings to grow by three to five per cent this year," said Bailey, adding that there were variables in this, including the European financial crisis.
Pointing to particular growth markets, Bailey said that Myanmar was seeing exceptionally high growth rates - "albeit from a low base." Forecasts indicate traveller numbers are set to increase about 300 per cent in 2012 against 2011, says Abacus, with up to one million tourists expected to visit. Around a fifth of traffic is made up of business travellers. Outbound traffic will also grow sharply till 2016, predicts Abacus, with an expected 100 per cent increase from 2011.
Central Asia, including gas-rich Kazakhstan, has also posted strong growth. From 2011 to 2016, Abacus predicts an average of 17 per cent growth in outbound travel. Kazakhstan itself climbed more than 20 per cent in 2011 in outbound tourism, as its large population began to travel extensively to destinations including Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia. The Kazakh national carrier Air Astana has developed into a "hub carrier" for the region and recently ordered four Boeing 767-300ERs and three 787 Dreamliners.
“Abacus will continue to invest in emerging markets in both South East Asia and Central Asia. With the rapid growth experienced by countries like Myanmar and Kazakhstan, we want to ensure that our customers and partners are well-equipped with the best solutions and services to help them grow and entrench themselves firmly in the Asia Pacific market,” said Bailey.