Three Southeast Asian cities make up the world’s top ten most visited destinations this year, according to a report by the consultancy Euromonitor International titled “Top 100 City Destinations 2018”. Thailand’s bustling capital claimed second spot, behind Hong Kong, while Singapore ranked fourth and Kuala Lumpur ninth.
Wouter Geerts, the creator of the report, attributes Southeast Asian cities’ high ranking to the rise in Chinese travellers.
“The strong growth in outbound departures from China skews global city arrivals in favour of Asian destinations. Over the past five years (2012-2017), arrivals from China to Thailand have risen by 28.8%, to Malaysia by 7.9%, and to Singapore by 13.2%.
He added, “with China outbound departures set to continue strong growth (9.2% between 2018-2023), these cities will likely reap further benefits over the coming years.
Some aspects do need to be taken into consideration here, especially around these cities not becoming too reliant on Chinese travellers alone, and how to manage this future growth sustainably.”
Over 23.6 million foreigners are projected to visit Bangkok by the end of the year, more than a 5% increase from the year before. As tourism to the country has more than doubled in the past decade, Bangkok has developed into a booming megacity, attracting a vibrant mixture of tourists, businesses and foreign investment.
The Thai Ministry of Sports and Tourism has been trying to disperse visitors away from popular centres like Bangkok and Phuket, to other less-known areas, and to encourage travellers outside of peak season. The “Amazing Thailand Go Local” campaign was launched this year, intending to distribute the tourism benefit more evenly across the country, according to research by Grace Chia, a senior research analyst at Euromonitor International.
So far the Thai government has used tax reductions to promote leisure travel and seminars in 55 less-visited provinces, as well as providing community leaders with training for tourism. Thailand is also trying to bank on its growing role in travel-related conferences, seminars and other professional events – called MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) tourism. While still behind Singapore and Malaysia in this niche, Thailand is becoming an important centre for MICE in the region.