South Asian countries are going all out to welcome the return of foreign visitors, especially Chinese tourists, after 18 long months of border closures. Chinese are mostly being attracted to various tourist destinations as was the norn in the pre-pandemic period. Indonesia has just reopened the tropical heaven Bali Island. From November 01, Thailand will allow vaccinated people to bask on its beaches. Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka all want to gradually return to the "world of before".
Experts highlight the nuances of this underlying trend. Each country has its own reasons for reopening, whether they are sanitary or economic. In Singapore, where the vaccination rate has reached 80pc, it is not necessarily a question of leisure travelers. What the country’s authorities are interested in is bringing back the business world, which was kept away until now.
In other countries, such as Indonesia, it is not the improved health situation that explains this reopening. The vaccination rate is very low, it is less than 30pc. There, the will is clearly to relaunch the tourism industry.
In general, South Asian countries have all opted for a cautious approach to welcoming visitors. Progressiveness and selectivity are the keywords. Countries in the region are reopening to certain source markets where the vaccination rate is high, i.e. European countries, but Chinese tourists are also welcome.
Impact of Visits from China
Chinese tourists are quite important for the economies of South Asian countries. However, the Middle Kingdom still prevents the cross-border movement of people. There are fears that there will be another outbreak of the epidemic. The vaccination rate in China is high, but the effectiveness of the vaccine seems questionable. The Chinese are not allowed to travel abroad as usual.
This restrictive policy has a definite impact on the tourism sector. Europeans represent a very small proportion of the tourists who come to Southeast Asia. Chinese tourists would come in great numbers if they could. Moreover, they spend the most when compared to other groups of visitors.
So, the impact of the gradual return of people from the West is just one factor in an economic recovery. European tourists are generally blamed for not bringing in enough foreign currency, because they don't spend enough.
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