Travel bookings in Asia rose 10 percent in April from a year ago, signalling strong growth in the second quarter, Asia's leading air ticketing and reservations company said.

Abacus International said however that recovery of tsunami-hit tourism destinations was taking a little longer than expected, particularly for Krabi and Phuket in Thailand.

"Asia-Pacific travel is growing strongly as it enters the second quarter of 2005," Singapore-based Abacus said in a statement.

Bookings in April totalled more than 2.9 million, up 10 percent from the same month last year and 7.0 percent from the previous month. Nearly 80 percent of bookings were for travel within the region.

"As we enter the second quarter -- which is traditionally when travel picks up -- we are seeing the signs of solid growth, which barring unforeseen circumstances we expect to continue for the rest of the year," Abacus president and chief executive Don Birch said.

Vietnam, Central Asia as well as South Korea and Hong Kong were among the favourite travel destinations, while Pakistan was described as a "market to watch" in South Asia.

Birch however said that "the recovery of the tsunami-affected areas is taking a little longer than originally expected -- particularly for Krabi and Phuket."

Bookings to these places have dropped 60-70 percent from last year, he said.

"But we are encouraged by stronger tourist returns to the Malaysian resorts of Penang and Langkawi," Birch added.