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Wed, 27 June 2018

GMS Reports 11.7% Jump in Visitor Arrivals

[HD videos below] Strong economic growth in Asia, better air connectivity and simplified visa procedures for most Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries resulted in over 61.2-million visitor arrivals (excluding Chinese provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan) to the region in 2017.

This impressive number of arrivals represents a jump of 11.7% on 2016, a year which saw the GM pass the 50-million mark for the first time to reach 54.76 million visitors.

If Guangxi and Yunnan were to be included in the total, this would represent an additional 7.03 million international visits in 2016 (10.82 million if Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan are considered international). They is no data yet available for 2017 but overseas visits should have fluctuated between 7.5 and 8 million last year.

The Mekong Tourism Forum 2018 is being held 26-29 June in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. Click to enlarge.

Thailand continues to have the largest market share of all international arrivals in the region. In 2017 the kingdom welcomed close to 35.5 million visitors, a jump of 8.6% over 2016. Thailand's market share shrank slightly from 59.5% to 57.8% of all arrivals, a slight decrease due to the strong rise in international arrivals from Vietnam. Thailand retains its lead however, and has the ambition to welcome over 40 million travellers by the end of the decade. An ambitious program of upgrading airports and improving rail connectivity should help bringing more travellers to the kingdom.

Vietnam is consolidating its position as the GMS' second largest inbound destination for international travellers. Total visitors arrivals last year reached 12.9 million, a jump of 29.1% on 2016. This is due to a huge rise in arrivals from China (+48.5%) but also to a more open visa policy from the government and, last but not least, to a massive increase in air connectivity. Many new international routes started from major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) and Danang and also from secondary destinations such as Dalat, Haiphong, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc.

Cambodia is now the third largest inbound market of all GMS countries with over 5.6 million international visitors in 2017, a growth of almost 12% on 2016. Cambodia is targeting 7.5 million travellers by the end of the decade. While the main destinations remain Siem Reap / Angkor and Phnom Penh, new resorts along the Gulf of Siam are increasingly positioning Cambodia as a beach destination with more international flights landing in Sihanoukville.

Last year Laos recorded a decline in visitor arrivals of 8.7%, the equivalent of 3.87 million international travellers. The hosting of Visit Laos Year 2018 should invert the trend and let Laos see more visitors during the year. More flights connect Vientiane and Luang Prabang and by 2022 the countrys first high speed train connecting Vientiane to Kunming via Luang Prabang should boost arrivals, mostly from China.

Myanmar managed to revert its decline in tourist arrivals experienced in 2016. Total international visitors arrivals in 2017 grew by 18.4% allowing the country to pass again the 3-million mark. Yangon, the countrys largest international gateway saw arrivals growing by over 6%. Simplified visa formalities with the introduction of an e-visa for tourists should have a positive effect this year. The upgrading of Bagan and Inlay Lake airports to allow them to receive regional flights will also help boostinternational arrivals in the years to come.

China Inbound

The excellent performance of GMS countries is mostly due to the dynamic of the Chinese holiday market. Except for Lao PDR and Myanmar, China is now the number one inbound market in the region, generating 25.8% of all arrivals to the GMS in 2017.

Chinese travellers to Thailand is slowly approaching the 10-million mark (9.81 million in 2017, up 12% with a market share of 27.7% of all arrivals).

In Vietnam, Chinese arrivals jumped by 48% last year to reach 4.01 million, representing a market share of 31% of all arrivals to the country.

Cambodia received 1.21 million Chinese travellers in 2017, a jump of 45% on 2016. Chinese visitors now represent 21.6% of all arrivals.

While total visitors to Laos declined last year, China continued to grow. Total arrivals jumped by 17%, or 639,000 visitors. China was the only large inbound source market for Laos to experience growth last year and represents 16.5% of all arrivals.

Last year, Chinese arrivals to Myanmar grew by 15.6% to pass the 200,000-visitors mark for the first time. China's market share remains relatively small as it represents only 15.6% of all arrivals at international gateways (excluding one-day visitors movements at land borders).

Videos from MTF2018 Pre-Event Press Conference on 4 June 2018

Jens Thraenhart Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO)

Watch also: Mekong Mini Movie Festival Open to Professional and Amateur Videographers.

The following three videos are in Thai.

ฯพณฯ วีระศักดิ์ โควสุรัตน์ รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงการท่องเที่ยวและกีฬา

นายสมชาย วิทย์ดำรงค์ ผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัดนครพนม

นายพงษ์ภาณุ เศวตรุนทร์ ปลัดกระทรวงการท่องเที่ยวและกีฬา

MIST (Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism) Panel Discussion at Mekong Tourism Forum 2018 on 26 June 2018. Panelists include Jason Richards, Regional Sales Manager - Asia Pacific at Cloudbeds, Alberto Moreno, CEO and Founder of Baolau and Clement Wong, CEO and Founder of BeMyGuest. The panel discussion was moderated by Jason Lusk, Director of MIST.".

Alberto Moreno, CEO and Founder of Baolau - a multi-transport travel search engine for the Mekong region, gives a presentation during M.I.S.T. (Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism) at the Mekong Tourism Forum 2018 in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand on 26 June 2018.

Jason Richards, Cloudbeds Regional Manager Asia Pacific, gives a presentation at MIST (Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism) during the Mekong Tourism Forum 2018 on 26 June".

Clement Wong, CEO and Founder of BeMyGuest giving a presentation at Mekong Tourism Forum 2018 in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand on 26 June 2018.

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