India has consistently been among the top 10 tourist-generating markets in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, said Manoharan Periasamy, Chairman, ASEAN Promotional Chapter for Tourism(APCT) – India Chapter and Director, Tourism Malaysia, India.
“South East Asia has always been an attractive destination for Indians. Last year we had over 102 million visitors to the ASEAN countries and over 3 million were from India,” he said, speaking at a event organised in Mumbai by ASEAN to promote tourism to the region by Indians. More than 200 members of the trade fraternity, media, and high-level officials were present at the event.
“Historically Indians have been visiting Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. ASEAN has much to offer with the inherent diversity in terms of peoples, lifestyle, culture, religion, and culinary experience, together with the rich natural landscape and deep historical heritage. Last year, Myanmar saw a 50% increase in tourist arrivals, and India was a major contributor to this. Places like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos are also fast featuring on the Indian must-visit countries list. These are positive signs for us at APCT,” added Periasamy.
ASEAN hopes that by 2025, the region will be a quality tourism destination, offering a unique, diverse ASEAN experience, and will be committed to responsible, sustainable and inclusive tourism development, so as to contribute significantly to the socio-economic well-being of the people of the member nations, the release adds.
Officials at the APCT – India Chapter opined that the current need for multiple visas was hindering cross-border tourism in the region. They informed that a proposal for an ASEAN Common Visa for non-ASEAN nationals, to facilitate business mobility and tourism, is in discussion. Smaller schemes, such as the Cambodia-Thailand single visa, have already been implemented and have proven successful, the officials concurred. Another example is the Malaysian visa-on-arrival for Indian tourists coming from Singapore and Thailand.
Last year, the ASEAN region saw 102 million visitors, with Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam being the top five visited countries, and Myanmar and Laos registering the highest growth of 53% and 10%, respectively.
Musafir Namah Bureau