Travel remains top passion for Asia's high-flyers

Tue Apr 7, 2009 2:33am EDT
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SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Travel is the not-so-guilty passion of Asia's top money earners, according to a survey by Visa, with people from Hong Kong and India most likely to go on a weekend get-away.

"New sights, new tastes and new sounds drive the personal interests of affluent people in Asia Pacific," said James Lim, regional head of Visa Consumer Credit and Debt in a statement detailing results of the survey.

Counting "high income earners" as those in the top 20-40 percent, the survey said 73 percent of respondents saw travel as their top personal passion for the next two years.

Food was second with 43 percent, while music and cars were joint third with 31 percent.

The survey polled more than 4,000 people in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, China, Australia, India and Japan. Respondents listed their passions in order, which is why figures total more than 100 percent.

Although the survey was carried out in September and October last year, before the full effects of the global financial crisis were being felt, Visa said one-off big purchases were less susceptible to economic fluctuations than might be expected.

"Passions are pursuits for the longer term rather than for the present," said Visa.

The most popular travel destinations for Asia Pacific high flyers were Japan (34 percent), followed by Australia (29) and the United States (26), the survey showed.

While travel was the first choice for men and women, men went next for cars and wine, while women chose food and art.

Surprisingly, sport -- including golf -- was a passion for less than 1 percent of respondents.

(Reporting by David Fox; Editing by Jerry Norton)