By Wang Hai
With more than 2,700 flights between China and ASEAN countries every week, the close neighbors in the region have become the leading source countries of foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) to each other. Last year, China and ASEAN countries saw frequent exchanges of citizens with more than 30 million visitors.
In 2016, China was the largest source country of FTAs in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, and the second largest in Singapore, Cambodia and Myanmar. 8.75 million visits to Thailand over the year made the country the most popular tourist destination for Chinese tourists, accounting for a quarter of total FTAs in Thailand. In the same year, more than 2 million Chinese tourists traveled to Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia and the number continues to grow.
According to an outbound tourism professional in China, young people have become the largest group of visitors to Southeast Asia, due to convenient transportation, relatively low cost and easy access to visas.
In fact, the popularity of ASEAN countries in China is not only rising among young people. Thanks to the relatively short distance, steady growth of tourists, high quality of tourism services and a variety of products, ASEAN countries have become one of the most popular tourist destinations for Chinese people of all ages in this coming long weekend of Qingming Festival (Clear and Bright Festival, April 5).
With the rapid development of the outbound tourism market, Chinese tourism enterprises have embarked on expanding their overseas business. The direct investment in tourism in China exceeded 1 trillion yuan (US$145 billion) in 2015, and 1.30 trillion yuan (US$190 billion) in 2016.
A growing number of Chinese travel agencies have set up offices in ASEAN countries such as Thailand and the Philippines. Lvmama, a B2C tourism platform in China, opened a Chinese tourist center in Boracay, a small island in the Philippines, providing Chinese tourists with services of language, mobile payment in Chinese currency and WeChat online service.