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ASEAN tourism to grow, but challenges remain

The ASEAN region is poised for a significant tourism boom, but more work needs to be done in areas such as infrastructure - and to lessen the risk of over-reliance on Chinese tourists and casinos, said a report from Maybank, Business Times reports.

Since 2010, ASEAN visitor arrivals have grown at a compound annual rate of 8 percent, with tourism receipts accounting for a strong contributor to many of the ASEAN country’s economies.

Currently, the leaders in tourism are Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, according to a World Economic Forum Travel and Competitiveness Index 2017, while Vietnam, Philippines and Cambodia have been lagging behind.

While there is strong upside to tourism growth, there are also concerns of the over-reliance on Chinese tourists, who have been a significant driver of ASEAN tourism growth to date.

Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore have scored as the most popular regional destinations for Chinese tourists.

Over the last few years, analysts have observed a potentially untapped source of tourists from China’s second and third-tier cities. However, Maybank raised concerns that these new markets may be a lot more price sensitive than those already traveling today.

Tourist activity from China could also fluctuate depending on the state of international relations.

Finally, on the topic of casinos, Maybank warned that casinos situated in ASEAN will be forever prone to competition from other markets, especially Macau. Thus, there is a pressing need for casinos in ASEAN to diversify, it wrote.

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