Southeast Asian countries ease visa rules to attract tourists

 Friday, March 1, 2019 


Southeast Asian countries are responding to a drop in tourism from China, its largest source of arrivals, by offering easier visa procedures to visitors from countries in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere in Asia.



Thailand, the region’s most popular destination, received 38 million international tourists in 2018. In January, the kingdom extended a waiver of the 2,000 baht ($64) fee for visa-on-arrival for tourists from 21 countries and regions, including China, India and Saudi Arabia, through April 30. It began the waiver last December.



Vietnam in February added 35 countries, including Brazil, Qatar and Belgium, to the list of those whose nationals can enter with e-visas. Cambodia has announced that it will soon issue three-year multiple entry visas for Chinese and South Koreans.


Tourism is important to Southeast Asia’s economy, contributing 12% to gross domestic product in Thailand, 6% in Malaysia in 2018 and 16% in Cambodia in 2017.



The total number of international visitors to six regional countries with available data — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — topped 120 million last year, around 20% of whom were Chinese. The country’s booming international tourism has been a shot in the arm for the industry in Southeast Asia in recent years. The easing of visa rules in Southeast Asia underscores their efforts to develop new markets and reduce their reliance on China. This takes place against a backdrop of slowing growth or outright declines in Chinese arrivals in some countries.



In Singapore, Chinese tourist arrivals fell 3% on the year in December, the second straight monthly decline, following a 12% slide in November, according to government data released February 13.






@ Nikkei Asian Review

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