Destinations'Tis the season for 'Hurry Raya' too as the region's travellers head overseas for vacations, thanks to borders reopening and long holiday weekends.

Southeast Asia charges ahead to catch up on tourism

Southeast Asia's tourism sector is making a comeback as intra-region travel picks up.
Southeast Asia's tourism sector is making a comeback as intra-region travel picks up. Photo Credit: Xinyi Liang-Pholsena

The unlocking of borders and dialling back of Covid-19 restrictions are having a pronounced effect on Southeast Asia's major economics - tourism is coming back.

Adding to the growing ease of travel are major holidays like Labour Day and the end of the holy Ramadan month, which combined together are leading to higher passenger volume in airports as holiday-starved masses travelling abroad for their vacations.

On 1 May, which saw the removal of Thailand's Test & Go entry programme for inbound arrivals, Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport received about 17,000 air travellers on 96 international flights at Suvarnabhumi while a further 4,000 from 27 landings at Phuket airport, according to the Transport Ministry.

Meanwhile, Malaysia has emerged the top Hari Raya Aidilfitri destination for Singaporean travellers, revealed Agoda, as land borders between both countries are opened since 1 April.

Ahead of 1 May long weekend, which coincided with Hari Raya Puasa (the end of the month-long time of fasting for Muslims), nearly 280,000 travellers departed Singapore for Malaysia using the land checkpoints on Friday (29 April) and Saturday, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

As well, Malaysian travellers are making a beeline for overseas vacations following two years of closed borders.

Overall, Ramadan travel is making a comeback, and the region is reaping the effects of outbound travel bookings from the Middle East between 22 April and 2 May. According to Forwardkeys, the Maldives, the Philippines and Thailand, have seen surges of 69%, 155% and 3,096% respectively when compared to the same period last year.

Cambodia, which lifted Covid travel restrictions ahead of its regional peers, is already seeing positive impacts from eased borders. The number of international visitors to Cambodia reached 159,546 in 1Q this year, marking a 125% growth from last year’s figure.

The Cambodian tourism ministry reported that Vietnam and Thailand are the country's respective top source of tourists, followed by the US, Indonesia, France, South Korea, Malaysia, and the UK.

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