COVID-19 impact on tourist arrivals APAC 2020 by country or region

At the beginning of 2020, the tourism industry across the Asia Pacific region experienced the consequences of the unexpected outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Indonesia displayed a decrease of 13.5 percent in terms of its tourist arrivals. The likes of China, Vietnam, and Thailand all demonstrated dramatic tourist arrival decreases.

Travel cancellations

The outbreak of COVID-19, a respiratory lung infection, originating in Wuhan, China, began to spread just before the Chinese New Year of 2020. Consequently, travel restrictions and increased infection cases hindered plans over the festive period. This in turn resulted in both domestic and international travel cancellations and subsequent losses to the tourism industry. As anxiety over the COVID-19 outbreak grew in 2020, citizens of the Asia Pacific region even stated that flights from China should be banned.

Importance of Chinese tourism in Asia Pacific

China is renowned for its economic dominance within the Asia Pacific region. Its thriving economy has allowed for an increased level of affluence among its citizens. Wage increases have allowed Chinese people to travel more frequently, with many opting to travel within the Asia Pacific region. Through increased domestic tourism, many countries across Asia Pacific have come to rely on Chinese tourism to support their respective tourism industries. Interestingly, Chinese tourism alone made great contributions to many of the Asia Pacific GDPs in 2018. As the tourism industry represents a significant part of the GDPs in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand, it is believed that these economies have suffered greatly due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, it was predicted that the economies within the Asia Pacific region could suffer an astronomical 211 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of losses due to the outbreak. Although there have been outbreaks of infection previously, which have disrupted the tourism industry in Asia Pacific, none have been quite as severe as the COVID-19 outbreak. This is likely due to the fact that previously Asia Pacific tourism industries were not as reliant on Chinese tourism as they have been in recent years.

Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on tourist arrivals in the Asia Pacific region in 2020, by country or region

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Release date

February 2020



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

Values were estimated by the source.

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