Malaysia beats Thailand to become most-visited country in Southeast Asia

By Hoang Phong    February 23, 2024 | 02:49 am PT
Malaysia beats Thailand to become most-visited country in Southeast Asia
A view of Kuala Lumpur's skyline in Malaysia, May 30, 2023. Photo by Reuters
Malaysia recorded nearly 29 million foreign arrivals last year, becoming the most popular destination in Southeast Asia, a throne that belonged to Thailand before Covid.

Singaporeans were Malaysia's biggest source of foreign arrivals with 8.3 million, followed by Indonesians, Thais, Chinese and Bruneians, according to Focus Malaysia news site.

Thailand came in second in the region with 28 million foreign tourists, followed by Singapore with 13.6 million.

Vietnam was in fourth with 12.6 million while Indonesia recorded 11.7 million arrivals.

The Philippines and Cambodia each attracted some 5.4 million international tourists in 2023.

Southeast Asian countries raced to attract foreign tourists with flexible immigration policies from late last year.

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

From mid-August, Vietnam granted three-month tourist visas for citizens from all countries and territories and tripled the duration of stays in Vietnam to 45 days for citizens of 13 countries unilaterally exempted from visas.

With fierce regional competition, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh last week ordered ministries to consider expanding visa exemptions for citizens from certain countries in accordance with bilateral cooperation activities.

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