Malaysia most visited country in Southeast Asia this year

By Hoang Phong   December 18, 2023 | 04:32 am PT
Malaysia most visited country in Southeast Asia this year
A view of Kuala Lumpur's skyline in Malaysia, May 30, 2023. Photo by Reuters
Malaysia received 26.1 million foreign arrivals between January and November, making it the most popular destination in Southeast Asia this year, data showed.

Thailand came in second with 24.6 million arrivals during the same period, followed by Singapore with 12.4 million and Vietnam with 11.2 million, according to data collected from the tourism ministries of regional countries.

Other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia have recorded less than 10 million foreign arrivals with different time intervals.

As of late November, the Philippines recorded only 4.6 million foreign tourists while Indonesia and Cambodia welcomed 9.5 million and 4.4 million as of October, respectively.

This year, Southeast Asian countries raced to attract foreign tourists with flexible immigration policies.

Starting from Dec. 1, Malaysia allowed 30-day visa-free entry for citizens from mainland China and India in a similar move to Thailand.

Malaysia's Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said he hoped tourist arrivals would continue to increase following the implementation of the 30-day visa exemption for travelers from China and India, The Star reported.

In 2019, Malaysia recorded 26.1 million international visitors, before dropping by 83.4% to 4.33 million in 2020 — the year when the Covid-19 outbreak first emerged.

The following year, the number plummeted further to a mere 130,000 before rebounding to 10.1 million in 2022.

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