As discussed in a report published by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in early 2011, New Dawn for Asian Resort Destinations, destination resorts are a relatively new concept in the region, only emerging in the mid-1970s – yet not really attracting mass demand until the late-1980s. Nevertheless, demand soared through the 1990s and the first decade of this century, boosted by the emergence of the middle classes in Asia as new tourism markets.
While Western markets have to some extent grown tired of the mega-resort destination concept, seeking less accessible, more exclusive holiday spots, demand is nevertheless assured for the foreseeable future given the current growth forecasts for the BRIC markets (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and newly developing economies (N11s), most of which are in Asia
Many of the earliest resorts in the region were built on the same model, drawing inspiration from places like Florida, Hawaii or Cancún in Mexico. They were typically supported by a range of sports’ facilities, along with amusement and theme parks, shopping complexes, medical and health/wellness centres. In addition, the more ambitious integrated resorts that were developed as new ‘towns’ – such as Cancún or Bali’s Nusa Dua – included housing, schools and hospitals to cater to the influx of local workers and their families. Newer examples include Sharm-el-Sheikh on Egypt’s Red Sea.
Many resort destinations have already reached a degree of maturity, attracting millions of visitors every year – and many are still continuing to grow, recognised as ‘brands’ in their own right, as well as being closely connected to the country in which they are located.
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The success of the first Asian resorts resulted in the development of a second wave of similar, resort-style destinations from the mid-1980s onwards. These included Koh Samui in Thailand, Boracay in the Philippines and Langkawi in Malaysia.
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