Tourism growth sluggish in South-east Asia

 Saturday, September 3, 2022 


When the world came to a complete stop in March 2020 and tourists disappeared from the ancient stone walkways of Angkor Wat, tour operators in Cambodia were left perplexed.

With the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic keeping international tourism in halt, many tour operators thought of ways to keep their tourism and hospitality businesses buoyant.

When tourists did not come back by mid-2021, many of them released their workforce with the promise that they would be called back with the resumption of international tourism.

However, in spite of the doors reopening for vaccinated travelers last November, the Cambodian tourism industry similar to much of South-East Asia still continues to struggle.

As per data from the UNWTO, international tourism in the Asia-Pacific region is witnessing the slowest recovery compared to other regions in the world.

While international influxes in Europe have plunged 30 per cent compared to the 2019 levels, in the Asia-Pacific region, they have plunged 90 per cent.

The region’s sluggish retrieval is mostly owing to its reliance on Chinese tourists, who are not being able to travel due to China’s recent COVID-19 travel rules.

Before the pandemic, tourism across the Asia-Pacific was flourishing, with an average of 7 per cent per year growth of international arrivals in the region.

While the tourist explosion brought prosperity for business, limitless arrivals were damaging the reliability of must-see destinations and threatening the very existence of places like Angkor Wat, Indonesia’s Borobudur and Thailand’s well-known Maya Bay.

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