November 27, 2009 / 1:32 AM / 9 years ago

Holidays abroad popular again despite downturn: survey

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Going on holiday is back on the cards again despite the recession, with a global survey showing one in five people plan to travel overseas, even if it’s largely within their region.

Holiday travelers pass by a row of arrival and departure screens at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, November 25, 2009. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

The survey by credit card firm MasterCard asked over 10,600 people in the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific about their travel priorities for the next six months, and the findings are likely to cheer the global travel industry which has had a rough year in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Some 20 percent of respondents said they plan to spend on international personal travel, with Hong Kongers topping the list of people planning holidays abroad, followed by Singaporeans and Saudi Arabians.

African respondents were the most keen to travel long-haul and go to the United States, Canada or European destinations, but for the majority, their top 10 likely destinations were largely within their own region.

Japan, Australia and China were the most popular countries for prospective travelers in the Asia-Pacific, while Middle Easterners were more likely to visit Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, the survey showed.

Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Asia-Pacific economic adviser for MasterCard Worldwide, said the survey showed the resilience of the travel industry in parts of the world not as badly affected by the global financial crisis as the United States and Europe.

The survey involved 24 countries and territories, from Australia to Nigeria.

“Although travel patterns have changed moderately, we see that consumers’ appetite for travel has held up through the recession,” Hedrick-Wong said in a statement.

“The fact that Asia has been the region that has been least affected by the global recession also means that spending on travel by Asian consumers will likely rebound more strongly in the coming months as well.”

Across the 14 markets surveyed in Asia-Pacific, 22 percent said they were planning a holiday abroad, compared to 20 percent six months ago. Nearly 60 percent stated international travel was a priority non-essential, or discretionary, spend.

In the Middle East, almost a quarter were planning trips abroad, down from a third six months ago, but nearly 90 percent said the strongly believed in spending money on travel.

In Africa, some 17 percent of respondents plan to spend on international air travel, the survey showed, a figure Hedrick-Wong said was likely to rise in the coming years in line with economic growth and rising incomes.

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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