Most country destinations begin a new year with a forecast or wish about how their tourism industry will do. South East Asia has been a growth area for long distance holidaymakers from the UK. The combination of climate, different cultures, currencies that haven’t been altered much against sterling, wildlife and some inexpensive fares on particular routes have helped those countries tap into British holidaymakers.
One country forecasting tremendous growth in Sri Lanka. With the end of the civil war, the government is fostering new tourism projects such as the Trincomalee tourist zone in the northeast of the country. Whilst the war was on, only about 35,000 tourists a month visited the country. By 2016, the government is hoping that 200,000 people will visit it.
Indonesia does not attract that many British and Irish tourists apart from to Bali (focussing on attracting more of its core visitors from Japan and Australia in 2010) but have high hopes of attracting us now that the state airline, Garuda, is flying again to Europe. This year they hope to attract about $7 billion in tourist spend or about $1,000 per person making the maths easy, an additional half a million tourists this year.
Thailand has become the largest South East Asian destination for British and Irish tourists. Last year the government supported its industry by giving landing fee discounts. They have now abolished that but are still encouraging airlines to fly thereby giving the rebates based on them flying extra passengers there. Frequently named as providing the best value for tourists, it will launch a strong campaign to persuade us to return or visit for the first time.
It’s neighbor, Malaysia, doesn’t receive quite the same publicity but last year over 435,000 visited it and we the UK remains the largest European provider of tourists. Over 17% more of us visited it last year making it one of the highest growth areas for British tourists. Even then tourism rose by a healthy 7% as more than 23.5 million people visited the country.
Vietnam has been the quiet success story of the last few years and shortly CD-Traveller will be carrying the story of a three-week trek around the country. Other countries in the area are to trying to catch up such as Cambodia which has opened a new eco-tourism resort and is planning a new island resort to open next year near Sihanoukville in one of the tourism belts.
I haven’t mentioned Singapore yet. Unfairly considered just a place to change planes, it offers a number of guided tours if you are strapped for time but it also offers a microcosm of South East Asia for visitors but with all the range of elegant accommodation that you’d expect from a bustling center