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Background Although the Asia Pacific region is the focus of the fastest-growing tourist and travel industry, few data are available on the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of travelers from this region with regard to travel-related infectious diseases.

Methods We conducted a cross-sectional survey among travelers at the departure lounges of five airports in Australasia (Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipeh, Melbourne, Seoul) whose travel destinations were Asia, Africa or South America. Two standardized questionnaires directed towards KAP in travel health, travel immunizations and malaria were administered.

Results Of 2,101 respondents (82% Asian, 17% Western), 31% had sought pretravel health advice and only 4% sought travel health advice from the travel medicine specialist. The risk of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases and malaria at the destination country was perceived to be low. Overall, fewer than 5% of travelers had been vaccinated in preparation for their trip. The most frequent travel vaccinations were for hepatitis A and B. Only 40% of travelers to malaria-endemic areas carried malaria prophylaxis. Compared to Western travelers, those of Asian nationality were significantly less likely to obtain pretravel advice and malaria prophylaxis and to receive travel vaccinations.

Conclusion There is an urgent need for increased awareness about travel-related infectious diseases among Asian travelers, and greater uptake of pretravel health advice, vaccinations and malaria prophylactic measures.