Fiji in, Hong Kong out: Asian tourism in trouble until 2024 | Economy News

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Fiji, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the Maldives top the list of destinations best positioned to revive pandemic-ridden tourism.

Fiji, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the Maldives are best placed to revive their pandemic-ridden tourism industries among Asia-Pacific destinations, while Hong Kong has the worst prospects due to its border policies. restrictive, according to a new report.

Singapore, Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Nepal and Cambodia are also among the top 10 destinations for a tourism recovery, according to the 2022 Travel-ready Index published by the Economist Intelligence Unit ( EIU).

The EIU said the index’s top performers had all eased visa and entry restrictions since 2021 or earlier.

“A combination of wider and more effective vaccination coverage and greater reliance on tourism has lent itself to less restrictive travel policies,” the EIU said in its report released Wednesday.

After Hong Kong, Brunei, Bhutan, Taiwan, Samoa, Vanuatu, Japan, China and Laos rank among the destinations with the least favorable tourist conditions, according to the index.

Economies in Northeast Asia, which are less dependent on tourism, have been slower to reopen, the report said, predicting that China and its territories of Hong Kong and Macao would stick to their strict policies of ” dynamic zero COVID” at least for 2022.

“While Macau benefits from a bilateral agreement in which mainland Chinese tourists can visit this territory without quarantine, Hong Kong – a global commercial and financial center – will suffer by losing its connectivity with the world,” the EIU said.

Thailand, India, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mongolia and South Korea were ranked in the middle of the table for tourism conditions.

The index measures the favorableness of conditions for tourism based on the importance of tourism to the economy, local vaccination coverage, ease of travel and convenience of returning home.

Slow reopening

Gary Bowerman, director of Kuala Lumpur-based travel and tourism research firm Check-in Asia, said the report shows Asia-Pacific lags far behind Europe and North America in regarding the resumption of travel.

“Asia is starting to reopen to tourism much later than the rest of the world,” Bowerman told Al Jazeera. “If you look at Europe and North America, even during the pandemic they opened and closed in the summer seasons, so in 2020 and 2021 Europe was open for travel.

The EIU said tourism in the region, with the exception of Fiji and the Maldives, is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2024, largely due to China’s restrictive border policies. . Of the 28 economies in the index, 13 relied on China as their main source of visitors before the pandemic.

Other risks to the recovery highlighted by the think tank include new coronavirus variants, rising oil prices and soaring inflation.

“Most countries are starting almost from scratch, after two years, and rebuilding everything in the tourism industry is very difficult after two years of shutdown, especially with the airlines,” Bowerman said.

“The airlines are the main factor here because they have suffered huge losses over the last two years and they are very careful about how they put flights back into their system because they have balance sheets that are really in trouble. They also have jet fuel prices which are incredibly volatile right now and the war between Ukraine and Russia is not helping.”

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