MH370, Thai Coup Slow Chinese Tourism to Southeast Asia

Even with travel agents offering huge discounts Chinese travelers are shunning the normally popular destination of South East Asia. According to a report by Bloomberg, statistics show a steady decline in Chinese tourists heading to countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, who made up a tenth of all arrivals to the regions in 2012.

Tourists have been deterred by a period of unrest and uncertainty between China and the Southeast Asian nations. Territorial clashes with the Philippines and Vietnam have hurt intergovernmental relations whilst also deterring travel. The recent Malaysia airline disappearance of a plane bound for Beijing has also discouraged the Chinese.

This drop in numbers has caused a series of knock-on effects, including a change in economic relationships and a shift in power. Malaysia has seen the biggest effect economically. The impact of the disappearance of Flight 370 (where two-thirds on board where from China) combined with the kidnapping of Chinese nationals visiting and working in the country has seen tourist arrivals from China drop nearly a third in May from a year earlier. This has also spurred street protests and boycotts by travel agencies.

Thailand also saw a decrease in visitors since the army seized power in a May 22 rebellion. Numbers were down 25 percent in July from last year, whilst Bangkok saw the biggest decline with a 35 percent. Vietnam’s tourist numbers cooled along with their political ties after deadly anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam. 

However, according to the report, it wasn’t all bad news. Japan saw visitors from China double form a year earlier, whilst Australia, the U.S. and Italy also saw an increase. Indonesia also seems to be an exception to the rest of the nation with the beaches of Bali still proving to be a popular draw. 

Read the Bloomberg report here.