Tourism in Southeast AsiaSoutheast Asia has fast become a tourist hotspot. The region alone generates huge amounts of income from the tourism industry. In this way, many countries across the Southeast Asia region depend on tourism to stimulate their newly emerging economies. Thailand stands in the foreground as the tourism leader of the Southeast Asia region, and has experienced millions of tourist arrivals. The likes of Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines have all demonstrated GDP growth and revenue due to the tourism industry. Not only does the industry provide monetary value to many countries, but it has made a significant contribution to employment. In order to encourage and maintain their growing levels of tourism, many Asia-Pacific countries have initiated programs in order to keep the influx of both domestic and international tourists high. Easier visa attainment and the establishment of low-cost airlines are just some of the ways Southeast Asia has attempted to stimulate its tourism industry.
The setback and outlook on the industryThe Asia-Pacific region has both a strong international and domestic tourism market. Throughout recent years, in connection with developing economies there has been an emergence of a growing middle class. Therefore, citizens of the Asia-Pacific region have higher levels of disposable income which could theoretically be used to travel. Thus, the Asia-Pacific region has experienced increased growth of domestic tourist arrivals.
However, unprecedented events have led to huge blows to the tourism sectors throughout the entire Asia-Pacific region. The outbreak of COVID-19 stunted tourist arrivals. Many countries, such as Thailand, who are dependent on Chinese tourism have been impacted greatly. During the initial year of the pandemic, the tourism industry shrank worldwide due to restricting regulations. In the past year of 2021, many regions saw an increase in tourist arrivals as border closures and regulations loosened up. However, the international tourism in the Asia-Pacific region continued to decline as the complete border closures persisted. Alongside the low visitor numbers, the Asia-Pacific region has faced challenges with its environmental sustainability. Therefore, if the region is to continue to excel in both international and domestic tourism, it may need to adapt its approach to environmentally sustainable travel.