Malaysia may see greatest domestic tourism offset in Asean-5

Traditional tuk-tuk taxi cars are used for social distancing during a concert in Bangkok in August, organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to promote tourism.
Traditional tuk-tuk taxi cars are used for social distancing during a concert in Bangkok in August, organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to promote tourism.
AUGUST 18, 2020 - 1:36 PM

DOMESTIC travel's boost to tourism will vary widely across the Asean countries, given the different ratios of inbound and outbound tourism spending, OCBC Bank economist Wellian Wiranto said in an Aug 17 research note.

"Looking at the 2019 data, the relative value of outbound tourism (what Asean nationals spent abroad) versus inbound one (what foreigners spent here) put some countries in better stead than others," he said. 

Of the Asean-5 economies, Malaysia stands out, with its US$12.4 billion outbound spending figure more than double its US$5.2 billion in inbound receipts.

Stimulus vouchers and tax relief may encourage Malaysians to reallocate some of their travel budgets to domestic tourism instead.

At the other end of the scale is Thailand, with its vastly successful international tourism sector. Inbound tourism receipts were US$60.5 billion, while outbound spending was US$14.3 billion.

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In other words, said Mr Wiranto, "even if Thais spend all of their 2019 travel budget in their own country now, it would still be three-quarters short".

Indonesia is the only other Asean-5 country where inbound receipts, at US$16.9 billion, exceed the US$11.3 billion in outbound spending.

While tourism does not account for a huge share of the country's gross domestic product, "it matters greatly for specific areas" such as Bali, which has reopened to domestic tourists, noted Mr Wiranto. 

Of the other two Asean-5 economies, outbound and inbound tourism spending in 2019 was US$26.7 billion and US$21 billion respectively for Singapore, and US$12 billion and US$9.8 billion respectively for the Philippines.