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ASEAN pins big hopes on tourism

Pub Date:23-02-06 14:56 Source:China Daily

Changes to China's pandemic control measures forecast to help spark revival

A base jumper leaps off the Kuala Lumpur Tower during an annual tower jump event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Feb 3, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

Indonesia and other countries in Southeast Asia are looking forward to rising numbers of travelers from other regions, notably China, which is widely expected to play a crucial role in reviving the region's tourism industry.

While authorities and businesses in many countries counted on China-supported recovery during the ASEAN Tourism Forum that ended in Yogyakarta on Sunday, local officials expressed their delight about the return of Chinese tourists and more exchanges with Chinese businesses.

"We expect rising numbers of tourists from China to visit our province, which is famous for environmental tourism, with a selection of superb snorkeling and dive sites as well as the Komodo National Park, home to giant lizards," said East Nusa Tenggara Province Vice-Governor Josef A. Nae Soi.

In 2019 the number of Chinese visitors to the Komodo National Park and the surrounding snorkeling areas reached 8,400, compared with 9,300 French visitors, the provincial tourism department said.

Tourist numbers will rapidly rise in the coming years following the pandemic, Nae Soi said.

"We expect that the forum will turn out good results also for our province."

The provincial government has adopted policies and is taking actions to make the region more attractive by developing quality homestays for tourists in different parts of the region, rich in traditional cultures, he said.

I Putu Winastra, chairman of the Bali chapter of the Association of the Indonesian Tour and Travel Association, said Bali and other tourist centers in Indonesia will be further linked with ASEAN countries as well as other countries, especially China.

"We are calling for the establishment of direct, regular flights from ASEAN countries and China … to Bali and eventually to other tourist centers in Indonesia, which is crucial to the region's tourism recovery."

He also expressed his hope that the Yogyakarta meeting of ASEAN tourism ministers would lead to concrete actions for tourism promotion in and outside the region.

In addition to transportation connections, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Economic Community Satvinder Singh called for more friendly visa requirements for ASEAN citizens.

In a recent interview with local media, Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia's minister of tourism and creative economy, forecast that the country would welcome more than 250,000 Chinese tourists within the year.

Experts and analysts have expressed confidence in the return of Chinese tourists and their positive influence on economic recovery in ASEAN countries as China eases cross-border travel.

Key industry

To countries such as Thailand with tourism as a key industry, the return of Chinese tourists brings hope of new vitality to local tourism.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says it expects 7 to 10 million Chinese tourists to arrive this year, with 300,000 coming in the first quarter.

On Friday, Thai AirAsia announced it would resume operating eight aircraft that were grounded during the pandemic and is considering shifting planes from other areas to cater to the growing number of visitors from China, the Bangkok Post reported.

Overseas group tours from China will resume on Monday. A total of 20 destination countries are on the list, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

Last month Fitch Ratings, a research company in Hong Kong that specializes in credit ratings, commentary and research for global capital markets, published a commentary that said changes to China's COVID control measures will increase the likelihood of a swift recovery for tourism in the Asia-Pacific region that had relied heavily on outbound Chinese travelers before the pandemic.

Leonardus Jegho is a freelance journalist for China Daily.


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