Will Chinese Tourists Continue to Boost the Tourism Growth in ASEAN Countries in the Post COVID Era?

Jun 04, 2021
ASEAN countries are the booming travelling markets in Asia. According to the report from GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, the number of international visitors to the ASEAN region is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.72%, from 129.2 million in 2018 to 155.4 million in 2022. If we just take a look at the 2019 data, Thailand received 39.80 million international visitors in 2019, the biggest market in the ASEAN region. Malaysia took 2nd position with 20.1 million visitors. Vietnam surprisingly is the 3rd biggest travelling market with 18 million visitors in 2019. Singapore and Indonesia ranked the 4th and 5th position with 15.9 million and 13.62 million visitors, respectively.
Chinese tourists largely fuel this high growth. Around 60,000,000 Chinese tourists visited ASEAN countries in 2019. For example, Thailand is the no.1 foreign destination among Chinese outbound tourists. 10.99 million tourists travelled to Thailand in 2019 from mainland China, which takes up ¼ of total international visitors to Thailand. Chinese visitors are also an important source for Vietnam’s surge in the number of visiting tourists. 5.81 million Chinese tourists visited Vietnam in 2019. And the number is expected to grow in the coming years further. Singapore and Malaysia are traditionally two hot destinations for Chinese tourists. 3.4 million Chinese tourists visited Singapore in 2019 and 3.04 million visiting Malaysia.
Many will worry that the pandemic may disrupt this trend of growth in the tourism market. However, we believe that Chinese tourists might become even more enthusiastic about the ASEAN region as their travelling destination in the post-Covid-19 era. This is because the fear for Covid-19 might make Chinese tourists prefer choosing overseas destinations close to China. ASEAN region offers a wide range of travelling experiences from beautiful natural scenery, top-tier beach resorts for escape, exotic adventures, diverse cultural experiences, and luxury shopping choices. All these are within a 4-hour flight to any Chinese visitor. The recent surge of China domestic travel demonstrated the strong desire for travel. According to the most recent data from the Chinese Custom Office, the total tax-free sales value in Hainan island in southern China reached RMB 2.4 billion in just July 2020, which achieved a surprising 228% increase. This is strong evidence showing Chinese consumers’ desire and capacity for travelling spend. We believe this phenomenon will reappear in the ASEAN region once the overseas travel restrictions are lifted.
Frank Xu
Frank Xu