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 August 03, 2007
MasterCard Worldwide MasterIndex of Travel Report -- Asia/Pacific

 MasterCard Worldwide has announced the results of its latest MasterIndex of Travel report, predicting steady growth in outbound travelers across Asia/Pacific in the second half of 2007.

The forecast revealed that outbound travel for Korea is expected to show a significant leap in year-on-year growth, from a projected 3.6% six months ago to a remarkable 12.5%, as 7.1 million Koreans travel for work and leisure. Other markets anticipating an increase in year-on-year growth include Australia (5.6%), New Zealand (2.1%), Hong Kong (4.9%), Indonesia (5.6%) and the Philippines (5.7%).

"In spite of global market volatility and continuing uncertainty in economic outlook, economic growth in Asia/Pacific remains robust; which in turn has supported the tourism industry in Asia. This positive forecast for outbound travel corresponds with increasing personal disposable income and availability of low cost travel options, which has made travel accessible to not just the mass affluent but the expanding middle class in Asia/Pacific," said Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor to MasterCard Worldwide in Asia/Pacific.

Markets seeing a slowdown in the rate of growth in outbound travel include China, Japan, Thailand and Singapore. Although outbound travelers from China are expected to increase from 17.14 million to 19 million, the rate of growth is expected to reduce significantly, from the robust 12% (seen in the previous survey for the first half of 2007) to a less buoyant 7.5%. For Japan and Thailand, a slowdown in their year-on-year growth from a previously recorded 4.8% and 7.2% respectively, to 1.8% and 4.3% respectively, is predicted for the second half of 2007. While 3 million Singaporeans are expected to travel from July to December 2007, the rate of year-on-year growth is forecasted at 3% compared to 5.2% projected in the first half of 2007.

Building on the momentum gained from January to June 2007, Malaysia and Taiwan are expected to power ahead in the number of outbound travelers. Including visitors to Singapore, over 23.8 million outbound visits are expected to be made by Malaysians for work and leisure in the next six months, resulting in a 7.6% increase in year-on-year growth. Outbound travelers from Taiwan are also expected to increase, from 4.38 million forecasted in the first half of 2007 to 4.6 million in the second half of 2007.

Released twice a year, the MasterIndex of Travel also includes a survey of business and personal travel trends among the urban middle class across 13 markets (Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and *Vietnam).

Regionally, 37% of the consumers polled had traveled internationally in the past 12 months for leisure, which was lower than the first half of 2007 (39%) but slightly higher when compared to the same period last year (36%). Thais (70%), Hong Kong residents (62%) and Singaporeans (61%) continued to dominate the top three spots in outbound leisure travelers the past 12 months. New Zealanders (42%), Chinese nationals (42%), Malaysians (43%) and Taiwanese (39%) were the next most favorably disposed to leisure travels. 83% of consumers favored Asia/Pacific destinations, followed by Europe (29%), then North America (USA 17% and Canada 8%).

In terms of business travel, 1 in 5 respondents had traveled internationally on business in the past 12 months. 29% of business travelers in the region said they traveled more than the same period last year, while slightly fewer (27%) said they traveled less than the first half of 2007. Business travelers in Australia (40%), Malaysia (45%) and Singapore (40%) said they traveled less whereas others in Vietnam (64%), Hong Kong (38%), Indonesia (28%) and Thailand (30%) said they traveled more. Mirroring the survey results from the first half of 2007, Singaporeans (43%) and Thais (34%) continued to top the list of business travelers in the region, with China as the most frequently visited destination. Other frequently visited business destinations include Singapore (17%), Hong Kong (16%), Japan (14%), Malaysia (11%), Thailand (10%) and Australia (9%).

A total of 5,407 consumers from 13 markets participated in the survey (with Vietnam as the additional market included in the survey component). Fieldwork was conducted between 2 May to 31 May 2007, with a sample of 400 or more consumers in each of the 12 markets, except in China where 600 consumers were interviewed. The participants were males and females aged 18 years and above, from the middle and upper income groups.

* Vietnam was included as the additional market in the survey component in 2004