Some viewpoints suggest it’s not merely a competition but a strategic approach. While Malaysia may not boast as many natural attractions as Vietnam, it remarkably draws in 26.1 million tourists. This achievement stems from a shared strategy among stakeholders to offer balanced services and reasonable prices. Comparatively, Malaysia is a more budget-friendly destination than Vietnam and neighboring countries. The affordability of essentials like food, transportation, admission fees to tourist spots, and cable cars plays a pivotal role. These measures significantly entice tourists to make return visits. Consequently, this repeated positive experience is why tourists increasingly choose to visit and revisit Malaysia time and again.
Visa Policy Changes: Vietnam made substantial changes to its visa policy, tripling tourist visa validity to 90 days and allowing multiple entries from August 15. Additionally, stays for citizens of 13 countries exempt from visas were extended to 45 days.
Tourism Boost: These policy changes fuelled a surge in tourism, resulting in 11.2 million foreign tourists so far this year, exceeding the initial 8-million target. The government aims for 13 million arrivals by year-end.
Visa Waivers: China initiated visa waivers for citizens from several European countries and Malaysia, enabling 15-day visa-free stays until November, yielding a significant increase in tourist numbers from these nations.
Fee Reduction: To encourage more travel, China reduced visa fees by 25% for travelers from select countries.
Targeted Visa Exemptions: Thailand took strategic steps to attract foreign tourists, offering visa exemptions for visitors from China, Kazakhstan, India, and Taiwan. These policies aimed to reinvigorate the tourism sector, particularly after the pandemic’s impact.
Extended Stays: Notably, Thailand extended visa-free stays for Russians to 90 days, hoping to attract visitors seeking a winter escape.
Visa Extensions: Malaysia extended the visa-free stay for Hong Kong passport holders to 90 days and introduced a 30-day visa-free entry for citizens from mainland China and India.
Tourism Records: As a result, Malaysia achieved a milestone, welcoming 26 million foreign arrivals, marking the highest record post the pandemic, signaling a successful recovery in the tourism sector.
Future Policy: Singapore announced plans for a 30-day mutual visa exemption agreement with China to be implemented early in the upcoming year. Chinese tourists have increasingly favored Singapore as an outbound destination.
Visitor Statistics: China emerged as Singapore’s second-largest source of foreign arrivals, reflecting changing travel sentiments and preferences.
Upcoming Changes: Indonesia is considering granting visa-free entry to nationals from 20 countries, including major ones like the U.S., China, and Australia.
Tourism Recovery: Despite the pandemic’s impact, Indonesia observed a noteworthy increase of 124.3% in foreign visitors from January to October 2023, showing promising signs of recovery in the tourism sector.
These policy shifts and visa amendments across Asian countries have played a pivotal role in revitalizing their tourism industries post-pandemic. The adjustments have not only facilitated easier access for travellers but also significantly contributed to increased foreign tourist numbers, highlighting the effectiveness of these measures in stimulating tourism and fostering economic growth.