Global arrivals to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are expected to grow from 136.9 million in 2019 to 142 million in 2024, driven by the region’s rich heritage and natural attractions, improved tourist facilities, affordable connectivity, rising consumer class and geographic proximity to China and India, forecasts GlobalData.
GlobalData’s latest report, ‘ASEAN Destination Tourism Insight Report including International Arrivals, Domestic Trips, Key Source / Origin Markets, Trends, Tourist Profiles, Spend Analysis, Key Infrastructure Projects and Attractions, Risks and Future Opportunities, 2022 Update’ reveals that the ASEAN region boomed as a destination prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Inbound arrivals to the 10 ASEAN member countries grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.7% between 2016 and 2019.
Hannah Free, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Plummeting traveller confidence, coupled with some of the world’s strictest entry requirements saw tourism numbers shrink to mere fractions of what they were in pre-pandemic times. GlobalData figures reveal that inbound flows to the ASEAN region declined by 78.8% YoY to 29 million in 2020.”
Many tourism-dependent economies and businesses in the ASEAN member states were particularly left vulnerable due to an over-dependence on Chinese tourism. China’s rapidly swelling middle class sparked a boom in overseas trips, with many attracted to nearby ASEAN countries.
In 2014, China accounted for just 13% of arrivals to the ASEAN bloc. By 2019, this had grown to 23%. However, the ASEAN region’s ability to achieve international arrival levels like that of 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be undermined the longer China adheres to its zero COVID-19 strategy.
Free concludes: “As the member countries go through phased re-openings and travel begins to resume worldwide, GlobalData forecasts the inbound flows to grow at a CAGR of 10.7% between 2022 and 2024, to reach 142 million international arrivals in 2024. Increasing integration and cooperation between the 10 member states in tourism promotion and development spells for a brighter future for ASEAN economic recovery.”