According to recent data, Malaysia emerged as the leading Southeast Asian destination for international tourists, welcoming an impressive 26.1 million foreign visitors from January to November this year. This figure positions Malaysia at the forefront of tourism in the region.
Thailand secured the second spot with 24.6 million arrivals within the same period, closely followed by Singapore with 12.4 million and Vietnam with 11.2 million visitors. This data, sourced from the tourism ministries of respective countries, illustrates the competitive landscape of Southeast Asia's tourism market.
Notably, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Cambodia reported fewer than 10 million foreign arrivals during various time frames.
As of late November, the Philippines reported 4.6 million foreign tourists, while Indonesia and Cambodia welcomed 9.5 million and 4.4 million visitors, respectively, by October.
This year, Southeast Asian nations actively vied for international tourist attention by implementing flexible immigration policies. Malaysia, mirroring Thailand's strategy, introduced a 30-day visa-free entry for citizens from mainland China and India, effective from December 1.
Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, Malaysia's Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister, expressed optimism about the potential surge in tourist arrivals following the implementation of the 30-day visa exemption for travelers from China and India, as reported by The Star.
In 2019, Malaysia recorded a staggering 26.1 million international visitors. However, this figure plummeted by 83.4% to 4.33 million in 2020 due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Subsequently, the numbers further dwindled to a mere 130,000 before a significant rebound to 10.1 million in 2022.
The tourism landscape in Southeast Asia continues to evolve, showcasing resilience and adaptability amidst fluctuating global circumstances.