Intra-regional tourism crucial for SE Asia travel revival

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Travellers will stick closer to home for post-Covid holidays; tourist at Wat Arun in Bangkok, Thailand pictured
Photo: TTG Asia

Due to an abundance of low-cost connectivity and an increased preference for travel closer to home in the midst of the pandemic, intra-regional tourism will play a key role in revitalising Southeast Asian countries’ tourism economies, according to GlobalData.

GlobalData’s latest report, Tourism Destination Market Insight – ASEAN (2021), revealed that in 2019, 44.3 million tourists travelled between the South-east Asian countries. The intra-ASEAN travel is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of five per cent from 2019 to 2024, and reach 56.6 million by 2024. Given the high level of growth, intra-regional travel could be key to the region’s recovery from the impact of Covid-19. The virus caused a 36.9 per cent year-over-year decrease in intra-regional travel in 2020, to a low of 27.9 million arrivals.

Gus Gardner, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, commented: “In 2019, intra-regional travel accounted for a total of 32.3 per cent of all travellers, showing the importance of regional links. With depleted budgets and Covid-19 fatigue setting in, travellers will be keen to travel and are more likely to select destinations closer to home. With the provision of relaxed visa policies between the member states, the barriers to travel are low and will help increase the intra-regional flows post-Covid-19.”

The ratification of the ASEAN single aviation market agreement has increased the level of competition and accessibility of intra-regional flights, much to the delight of travellers.

Gardner concluded: “The market has become saturated with low-cost airline connectivity due to the market liberalisation that has occurred. The low fares and high route frequency offered by these carriers has created a vast connected network across the region, reduced fares, and made travel more affordable. With personal financial concerns growing due to Covid-19, the availability and affordability of flights will be vital to stimulating tourism flows in the near future.

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