2022 is the first year of post-COVID recovery process, South East Asia tourism saw sharp growth compared to the previous year (UNWTO). However, in general, the tourism industry has not yet reached the pre-pandemic level in 2019.
Last year, the South East Asian region welcomed a total of 35 million international arrivals. It accounted for 4% of the share in comparison with Asia – Pacific. The tourism recovery rate compared to 2019 decreased to 74.8% but increased to 1,094.5% compared to 2021, when travel restrictions were still tight.
This year, countries in the region are keeping efforts in tourism development. In the first two months of 2023, South East Asia has recorded many positive numbers, signaling a big year for the tourism industry.
Vietnam among destinations with the best tourism performance
In 2023, Vietnam tourism received some good signals in the first two months of the year. The country ranked first in top most visited destinations by international tourists in January, following only Thailand and Singapore. In addition, Vietnam also achieved the highest 2023 tourism target rate. In January, Vietnam welcomed 871,162 visitors, reaching 10.89% of 8 million international visitors target. In terms of tourism recovery rate compared to January 2019, the Philippines led with 64.17%.
Thailand still proves its great appeal as the Southeast Asian destination that welcomed the most international visitors (more than 2.1 million arrivals) in January. Following this momentum, the country is likely to reach the set target of 25 million international visitors. Following Thailand in terms of inbound visitors in January 2023 were Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Cambodia, respectively.
In aviation, according to data from OAG, in February 2023, Indonesia provided more than 8.9 million seats by flights, ranking first in South East Asia. Next was Thailand with more than 5.6 million seats, closely followed by Vietnam (more than 5.5 million seats).
Top 3 South East Asian destinations with largest numbers of international arrivals in January 2023:
- Thailand: 2,144,948
- Singapore: 931,650
- Vietnam: 871,162
Top 3 South East Asian destinations with highest recovery rate in January 2023:
- Philippines: 64.17%
- Cambodia: 62.26%
- Indonesia: 61.24%
Although it did not offer the highest seating capacity, Vietnam led in the top of the busiest domestic routes in the region. Specifically, the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City route reached a total capacity of more than 930,000 seats in February only. It is 63% and 94% higher than the 2nd and 3rd busiest routes, Jakarta – Bali and Jakarta – South Sulawesi, respectively. The two routes are both from Indonesia.
It can be seen that many destinations in South East Asia are recording positive statistics in tourism recovery. Each needs to continue to promote its strengths, while finding new strategic approaches that are appropriate and feasible for tourism to return to the way it was before.