South East Asia

Success breeds success

The Philippines wants more cruises.
Christian Wyrwa
The Philippines wants more cruises.

After an excellent 2016, the region is investing for even more tourism growth in the years ahead.

South East Asia has been celebrating another good year thanks to a growing trend for long-haul travel by European holidaymakers. Tourism offices in the region are building on their success with a range of marketing activities and infrastructure investments to maintain momentum in the years ahead.

Indonesia recorded major growth in the German marketplace with a 17 per cent rise to 213,000 visitors last year, while total arrivals rose 16 per cent to move above 12 million. It wants to attract 20 million tourists by 2019. The strategy includes ambitious plans to create “ten new Balis” by associating lesser-known regions with the country’s top beach destination in its promotional campaigns. Airports on Java and Bali will be expanded to increase their flight capacity.

The Philippines is also attracting more Europeans thanks to the country’s cultural and natural diversity, said Maria Patricia Valdes, tourism director for Central and Eastern Europe. The UK remains its top market, with 173,000 visitors last year, followed by Germany (86,000) and France (55,000). Looking ahead, the archipelago nation wants to make the most of its 7,000 islands by enlarging cruise terminals to take more ships. Airports will also be modernised, and a new opened on Bohol later this year.

Malaysia had a good 2016 with a four per cent rise in international arrivals to 26.8 million, although the German market dropped 10 per cent because of route cancellations. The country aims to attract 31.8 million visitors this year and will focus on five themes: affordable luxury, nature adventure, family fun, events and business travel.

Thailand is stepping up its international marketing campaign to attract more visitors to lesser-known regions it has labelled as Hidden Gems. This year, Hidden Gems destinations are being promoted through The Link, an acronym for Local experiences, Innovation, Networking and Keeping character.