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Back on Top: Thailand Takes Back Title as Southeast Asia's Most Visited Country from Malaysia

Back on Top: Thailand Takes Back Title as Southeast Asia's Most Visited Country from Malaysia

Thailand has regained its position as the most popular destination in Southeast Asia in the first quarter of this year, reclaiming it from Malaysia last year.

In 2023, Malaysia attracted nearly 29 million tourists, surpassing Thailand which reached 28 million. While many were surprised by Malaysia's rise to the top spot, new data indicates a change with Thailand reclaiming the top position.

During January-March 2024, Thailand attracted 9.37 million foreign visitors thanks to its pro-tourism policies, including a permanent visa waiver for China. Meanwhile, Malaysia, which was the regional tourism champion last year, came in second with 5.8 million arrivals, a 32% increase year-on-year.

Vietnam ranked third with 4.6 million visitors, up 72% year-on-year, followed by Singapore with 4.35 million visits, up 50%.

Indonesia ranked fifth with 3 million visits, while the Philippines and Cambodia welcomed 1.6 million and 1.58 million international tourists, in the same period. Laos received only 1 million international arrivals.

Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia are competing to attract potential tourism markets such as China, India and Europe by offering visa waivers or extending visa-free stays.

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