Asian travel technology provider Abacus is seeing bookings up around 3-to-5% so far this year, although performance varied significantly around the region.
Chinese tourist outbound traffic is expected to increase from 57 million trips in 2010 to 100 million by 2015, and the market may soon open up for technology providers such as Abacus. Beijing has indicated that it is willing to break the Travelsky monopoly on travel bookings originating from China, at least for the international market.
In contrast, India has slowed down, partly reflecting the turbulence at Kingfisher Airlines. "In absolute numbers its shrunk a little bit," said Ho Hoong Mau, head of division, airline distribution at Abacus.
This is more than compensated for by the strength of China and other key markets such as South-East Asia and South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Indonesia.
Resurgent Myanmar is a star performer - travel numbers could rise as much as 300 per cent this year, with tourists numbers expected to break the one million mark. Outbound traffic is also expected to grow 100% between 2011-2016.
The likes of ANA, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways are looking at the possibility of launching flights later this year, while Korean Air is starting Seoul Incheon-Yangon in mid-September, with four flights a week served by a Boeing 737-800.
The European debt crisis continues to be a worry, but Ho notes that the weakness of the euro is having some compensatory affect, with Singapore-Europe bookings seeing double-digit growth.
Business travel is also pretty robust. “Corporate travel remains an important booking source for airlines. While this tends to be affected by the economy, there is still much room for growth, particularly in Asia Pacific where there is strong demand for business travel to emerging markets,” said Ho.
“What we have seen across Asia is that corporate business travel is now developing a second wing which is essentially domestically generated. The first wave of business travel growth has always been related to investments and trade between Asia and rest of the world. The second wave is now triggered by the rapid growth of the domestic demand in many large countries across Asia like Indonesia and China. Given the large capacity injected by airlines, the main increase in business travel spend in Asia will be from more trips as opposed to higher yield in the near term,” said Ho.