The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2019 published by the World Economic Forum shows the ASEAN collectively scores 3.8 out of 7 on factors that contribute to the environmental sustainability of the T&T industry. In spite of that, the Region has an advantage over North Africa in price competitiveness.
All things considered, Singapore is ranked number 17 in the world. Malaysia comes in at 29, Thailand 31, Indonesia 40, and Vietnam 63. Brunei Darussalam ranks number 72, and the Philippines 75 while Lao PDR and Cambodia take number 97 and 98, respectively. Myanmar is not analyzed in the 140- country/economy report. Interesting results:
Environmental Sustainability, and Natural Resources
Individually Thailand, Indonesia, Lao PDR, and Cambodia score lower than the regional average of 3.8 on factors contributing to the sustainable development of the T&T sector. Interestingly Thailand gains 4.8 in natural resources management, outscoring the global average after its decision to close the famous Maya Bay to allow coral restoration and marine life recovery in the Phi Phi Islands National Park.
Air Transport Infrastructure, and Human Resources
Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand also outscore the global average in air transport infrastructure, and human resources/labor market. However, there’s still room for improvement in their ground and port infrastructure.
Business Environment, Safety and Security, Health and Hygiene
Cambodia fares badly in world average rankings, especially in infrastructure and factors contributing to the business environment, safety and security, as well as health and hygiene.
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report provides a valuable tool for policy-makers and businesses to anticipate emerging trends in global T&T industry. For the ASEAN Region, it’s a key engine of growth. The role of tourism is obvious in the Thai economy. The country saw a record 38.3 million tourists in 2018, up 7.5% from 2017. Another 41 million visitors are expected in 2019. Meantime, a Mastercard survey placed Bangkok number one city on the Global Destination Cities Index for the third time in 2018.
Located on the southern coast of Bali, Canggu is known for beautiful rolling rice fields and the roar of the surf. The fast growing village is roughly half-an-hour drive from the upscale resort area at Seminyak that lies further south. Looking for good food, good vibe? Here are ten best places to eat in Canggu, from trendy café to Balinese style restaurants to cool spots to post on Instagram.
One of the favorite hangouts in Canggu, Café Organic means exactly that. Good food comes from natural farming methods. Feel the atmosphere. The interior space in shades of white is adorned with lush tropical gardens. There are healthy desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth.
A restaurant with beautiful rice field views, Warung Gouthe is well known for its home-style brochettes. The skewered meat or fish chunks grilled or roasted to perfection come in a tray with an excellent side dish of salad. You will love panini, a sandwich made with toasted Italian bread and the tantalizing aroma of a country style kitchen.
A favorite place serving breakfast and lunch, Cabina Bali is about good food, great company, and the opportunity to share the happiest moments in life. Here, food comes in a floating basket, so you don’t even have to get out of the pool. Girls in bikinis love it for the Gram.
Calm down and relax at Parachute as you take in the view of surrounding rice fields and lush vegetable gardens. If you prefer to eat alfresco, there are parachute canopies for that. Inside, coffee smells like heaven, and the aroma of baked goods will simply overwhelm you.
My Warung Canggu
Nothing beats a steak grilled to perfection. My Warung Canggu is a place to give yourself a nice treat or the ultimate indulgence. It goes together well with artistic and definitely exciting interior design. There’s even a confession room in case you think you’ve eaten too much.
The historic business hub of Bangkok is on CNN’s List of “Best Districts for Street Food” and “Top Ten Chinatowns in the World”. Whether it be fine dining or quick one-dish dinners, you can find some of the best meals in Yaowarat. Combine your favorite pastimes into one-day adventure. Living ASEAN recommends stopping by these places.
/// THAILAND ///
9:00 Coffee at Ama Hostel
Start your day at Ama Hostel Bangkok, a recently renovated Chinese style building located at 191 Soi Sapanhan off Chakkrawat Road in Samphanthawong area. The café in the forward section of the hostel offers coffee that smells so good. There’s nothing like the warm aroma of a steaming cup of coffee to wake you up to a beautiful day in old Chinatown. Nearby, push cart vendors serve delicious Kuichai meals and Kuay Jub noodes.
10:00 Shop at Sampeng Market and Yaowarat
A stone’s throw away from Ama Hostel stands Sampeng Market, a shopper’s paradise for goods at bargain prices, both retail and wholesale. The area is well known for many gift shops and stores selling fabrics, clothing and accessories, toys and seasonal decorating materials. Follow Chakkrawat Road and you come to Yaowarat Road.
12:00 Lunch at the Canton House
Enjoy the pleasure of authentic Chinese food at the Canton House. Established in 1908, the restaurant has since been renovated to give it unique appeal characterized by raw construction materials. The Canton House is located at 530 Yaowarat Road, Samphanthawong area. You will love the bite-sized Dim Sum in steamer baskets, steamed pork rib with black bean sauce, and fried Mantou (buns) with condensed milk. Thai and Western meals are also on the menu.
13:00 Wat Leng Noei Yi
The historic Wat Leng Noei Yi is rooted deeply in this community of Thai citizens of Chinese descent. Founded in 1871, the temple has been involved in every facet of life of the followers of Buddhism. It sees the busiest time during the period leading to Chinese New Year celebrations. Slowly burning joss sticks are used in paying tribute to the Lord Buddha. It’s good idea to avoid getting smoke in your eyes.
14:00 Jay Noi’s Kuichai Meal
About 250 meters to the right of Wat Leng Noei Yi stands a famous push-cart business selling fried Kuichai meals. Jay Noi’s Kuichai is renowned for being one of the most delicious vegetable meals in Yaowarat. Located on Charoen Krung Road, the humble push cart vendor sells Kuichai at 10 Baht apiece. The menu also includes fried Taro and Jicama (a globe shaped root vegetable). They are equally delightful.
15:00 Cakes at Wallflowers Café
Beat the heat in the afternoon with yummy mouthwatering cakes served with frothy Thai tea with cheese. Located at 31-33 Soi Nana, Pom Prab area, Wallflowers Café sits on the upper floor of a florist’s shop, which provides inspiration for many beautiful items on its menu. The café is owned and operated by an architect who has great interest in the art of coffee making.
Thailand’s Maya Bay, the Philippines’ Boracay Island, and Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago have seen multiple disturbances in recent years. Without a doubt they need all the help they can get to accelerate the restoration of marine ecosystems. Let’s see what measures have been taken to save them.
Thailand // The Philippines // Myanmar
In Thailand, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation closed the popular tourist destination Maya Bay for four months effective June 1. Because recovery was progressing more slowly than had been anticipated earlier, the authorities announced on October 2 that Maya Bay would remain closed indefinitely. The ban was deemed necessary to let nature take its course with respect to the health and sustainability of the organisms that exist there.
Maya Bay was made famous by the 2000 drama thriller “The Beach,” starring Leonardo Di Caprio. It lies as part of the Phi Phi Islands marine park in the Andaman Sea. The day-tripper paradise gets an average 2 million visitors a year, thanks to its proximity to Phuket and Thailand’s western shore.
In the Philippines, the popular tourist attraction Boracay Island, dubbed the “Best Island in the World” in 2012 by Travel+Leisure Magazine, was shuttered for six months effective April 26, 2018. The closure was part of a wider effort at assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been damaged by humans. The tropical paradise is scheduled to reopen on October 26.
In Myanmar, from time to time the curtain falls on the islets of Mergui Archipelago in the far south of the country. The much sought-after destinations in the Andaman Sea are easily accessible from Thailand’s Ranong Province. For environmental reason, Nyaung Oo Phee Island was closed to visitors on occasions. The same applied to Cock’s Comb Island, also called Emerald Heart for its blue green water color, and Cockburn Island (Kawthoung). Check it out before you visit them.
There are other beautiful islets in Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago that have remained largely unspoiled. They include Lampi, which is part of the Lampi Marine National Park, and nearby We Ale Island.
Going somewhere this Valentine’s Day? For inspiration, here are five heart-shaped lakes and islands around the ASEAN. Imagine waking up on the beach with crystal clear water, soaking up golden sun on the rice field, or escaping to the forest of luxuriant foliage found only in the tropics. Check out these places.
– Rih Lake / Myanmar –
Dubbed a hidden paradise, Rih Lake is off the beaten track. It’s located in Chin State bordering India and more than 480 km from Mandalay, the second largest city at the center of mainland Myanmar. The isolated, heart-shaped lake is surrounded by paddy fields and forested areas. The area is home to the Mizo people, who inhabit both sides of the Myanmar-India border. The lake, which is accessible from Rihkhawdar, a nearby tourist destination, is considered a pilgrimage site for Mizo people and the passage to their eternal home after death. Because it’s not easy to get to from within Myanmar, most visitors come here from the Indian side.
– Siit Lake / The Philippines –
Siit Lake is in Sulu, a province in the southern part of the Philippines. The heart-shaped body of water is 800 meters wide and 1.6 kilometers from one end to the other. The Sulu archipelago is part of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindana0 (ARMM). The provincial capital, Jolo, is located on the island of the same name. The Sulu archipelago is accessible from Mindanao Island. Due to its remoteness, the lake is not easy to get to.
– Cocks Comb Island / Myanmar –
Located in the Andaman Sea, Cocks Comb is a small limestone atoll with a stunning heart-shaped lagoon in it. On a clam day, you can swim through a natural tunnel into the beautiful lagoon, also known as the Emerald Heart. The seawater is perfect for snorkeling and coral reef diving. Cocks Comb Island is accessible from Myanmar’s southernmost city of Kawthaung and Thailand’s Ranong Province. Many tour operators offer guided service from Ranong.
– Dao Island / The Philippines –
Dao is a beautiful private island located in Busuanga Bay, Palawan Province. The 47.9-hectare (about half a square kilometer) island boasts crystal clear waters and pristine tropical forest. The crescent shoreline of the paradise island can be seen from the east side.
– Thung Thalay Luang / Thailand –
Thung Thalay Luang is an artificial lake designed to store rainwater in the Yom River Basin. Located in the north central province of Sukhothai, the large body of water features a small heart-shaped island with a beautiful Mandapa on it. The pillared pavilion for public rituals contains soil from villages across the province as the symbolism of love and social harmony. Accessible via a well-marked entry road, the island is a sight to behold from the air.
Do you fancy a walk with Komodo dragons, or cave exploring, or taking selfies on a stunning rice terrace? Do you feel like making a trip to see snow-capped mountains? Here are ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the ASEAN that might interest you.
In all the Region is home to 38 sites on UNESCO World Heritage List. They are selected for providing, among other things, significant natural habitats, exceptional beauty of the landscape, outstanding example of human settlement, unique cultural tradition, flora and fauna, evidence of earth’s history, and the conservation of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
The sites range from Komodo National Park, where Indonesia’s rare megafauna roams freely in the wild, to spectacular rice paddy terraces in Bali and the Philippines, to examples of outstanding land-use and sea-use in Vietnam. Living ASEAN presents ten sites that you might want to put on your next itinerary.
– Komodo National Park / Indonesia –
Komodo National Park is located within the Lesser Sunda Islands at the center of the Indonesian archipelago. The site was established in 1980 for the purpose of conserving the world’s largest lizards and their habitats. Proceed with caution. Although Komodo attacks are rare, the animal can be aggressive towards humans at feeding time. The giant lizard eats almost any kind of meat. They scavenge on carcasses of animals especially deer. The volcanic islands have been named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
– Kinabalu Park / Malaysia –
A beautiful place to go climbing in Southeast Asia, Kinabalu is among Malaysia’s first national parks. The 4,095-meter-high Mount Kinabalu is the centerpiece of the park. It was designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 for its outstanding universal values and biological diversity. Located in Sabah State in the northern part of Malaysian Borneo, Kinabalu National Park attracts thousands of mountaineers each year.
– Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park / Vietnam –
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park in north-central Vietnam is known for its pristine mountain landscape, tropical forests, rich wildlife habitats, limestone karsts, and a vast network of caves. Son Dong, the biggest cave, was discovered by a local named Ho Khanh in 1991. A joint Vietnamese-British team explored the caves in 2009. The national park was open to the public for the first time in 2013.
– Jatiluwih Rice Terrace, Bali / Indonesia –
The Jatiluwih rice terrace in Bali showcases one of the most complex methods of agriculture and water management systems that have existed since the ninth century. Cut into the mountainside, the beautiful paddy fields get its water supplies from a system of canals and weirs, known as Subak. It’s the living embodiment of a traditional philosophy known as Tri Hita Karana, or the three reasons of prosperity; namely, harmony among people, harmony with nature, and harmony with God. It’s a truly amazing place to visit if you are nature lovers.
– Lorentz National Park / Indonesia –
Lorentz National Park in Papua, Indonesia, was named after the Dutch explorer who visited the island in the early 1900s. The largest protected area in Southeast Asia, Lorentzt was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 for a wealth of graphic evidence of earth’s history. It’s one of the most ecologically diverse parks in the world encompassing a full array of ecosystems from marine sanctuaries and mangroves to tidal and freshwater swamp forests, as well as rainforests, tundra, and equatorial glaciers.
The vast forest complex that covers six provinces is home to four national parks and a wildlife sanctuary. The site stretches from the Cambodian border in the east, to Khao Yai National Park in the west. Khao Yai itself lies largely in Nakhon Ratchasima and includes parts of nearby provinces such as Saraburi, Prachinburi, and Nakhon Nayok. The complex ecosystems provide natural habitats for 2,500 species of flora and 800 species of fauna. Recently a streak of 18 tigers were discovered and photographed by hidden cameras. Parts of Khao Yai National Park have been set aside for tourism and has facility for wildlife watching at night.
– Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park / the Philippines –
Tubbataha Reefs is a marine park at the center of the Sulu Sea. Its two reefs are said to have existed for 15 million years. The North Reef spans 15 kilometers that serves as nesting sites for sea birds and marine turtles. The South Reef is 6 by 3 kilometers. The pristine coral islands boast extensive lagoons that serve as habitats for marine species, such as whale sharks, sting rays, spiny lobsters, leopard sharks, giant jacks, barracudas, parrot fish, hammerhead sharks, guitar sharks, snappers, lion fish, tortoise, clownfish, grey reef sharks, and manta, a devil ray that’s sometimes seen leaping high out of the water.
Since 2013, the ASEAN as a whole has attracted upwards of 100 million visitors from across the globe. Slogans appear to have a significant role in motivating the potential tourists and travelers to make a visit. While we have grown familiar with our amazing memorable phrase, other countries have theirs. Let’s see what works across the Region.
/// ASEAN ///
According to the 2016 World Economic Forum report, the ASEAN Region “continues to be one of the most exciting parts of the global economy, having grown by around 5% a year in nearly two decades.”
The WEF report said that about 104 million foreign travelers visited the Region in 2015, while ASEANstats.org, a division under the AEC Department of the ASEAN Secretariat, put the number in excess of 108 million. Of this, nearly 46 million or 42.2 percent were travelers from within the ASEAN membership. Meantime, the Region welcomed about 18 million travelers from China. A forecast indicated the number could top 20 million in 2017.
Slogans appear to have significant impact on the tourism industry. Many countries have seen great success for they provide a glimpse into pretty much everything a destination has to offer, from natural and cultural attractions to food to history and the people. All the good attributes are encapsulated in a single striking phrase.
Since 1998, “Amazing Thailand” has been the short and sweet slogan that worked best for the Kingdom. It contributed to propelling Thailand to the ninth place among the World’s Top 10 International Tourism Destinations in 2016, during which it drew up to 32.6 million foreign visitors.
Bangkok was at the highest place on the chart of Top Ten Global Destination Cities attracting 19.41 million visitors in 2016, outranking London, Paris, Dubai, and Singapore. A Mastercard index released recently showed the Thai capital benefited the most from international travel, while further growth in visitor arrivals were in the forecast for 2017.
/// ASEAN ///
The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index predicted that Bangkok’s visitor arrivals would increase by 4.0 percent in the 2017 calendar year, while Singapore was forecast to move up one notch growing by 2.6 percent and outranking New York (at minus 2.4 percent). Meantime, Kuala Lumpur was likely to post a strong 7.2 percent gain in visitor arrivals for 2017, enabling it to keep its eighth place on the chart.
From 2009 to 2016, two ASEAN cities also saw strong growth in visitor arrivals, namely: Jakarta up 18.2 percent, and Hanoi up 16.4 percent. Of all 132 destinations across the globe, Osaka was at the top with a whopping 24.0 percent growth in overnight visitor arrivals during the 8-year period.
Overall, international visitors to leading global destination cities increased in the 2016 calendar year. As for 2017, Tokyo’s visitor numbers were forecast to increase by as much as 12.2 percent, making it the strongest growth in visitors among the top ten.
The Mastercard index was more than just a ranking of top destination cities across the globe. Apart from international visitor volume, it also looked into tourist spending that contributed to furthering economic growth of countries. For the 2016 calendar year, Dubai was at the top with overnight visitors spending $28.50 billion, followed by New York ($17.02 billion), London ($16.09 billion), Singapore ($15.69 billion), and Bangkok ($14.08 billion), all in USD. Destination cities benefited greatly from tourism. Shopping accounted for 22.9 percent of tourist spending, local service 21.5 percent, and food and beverages 20.6 percent).
Do you know which ASEAN nations have the largest tourism industry? See the map below for the varying degrees of dependency based on the percentage of GDP taken up by the travel and tourism industry.
The following are the countries that rely on income from tourism, albeit to differing extents.Red countries are highly reliant with a tourism industry constituting more than 7% of overall GDP, pink between 5% and 7%, and light blue between 2% and 5%. Solid blue countries are least reliant with tourism trade accounting for less than 2% of overall GDP.
The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 by the World Economic Forum revealed a growing trend of traveling. On the big picture, selected countries have attributed their economic growth to increased tourism spending. The top 5 nations with the largest tourism industries are the United States whose tourism industry is worth $488 billion, China($224B), Germany($130.7B), Japan($106.7B), and the United Kingdom($103.7B).
For the ASEAN Region, Thailand is the largest travel and tourism economy with $36.4 billion. The kingdom ranks third among the top 5 most tourism-reliant countries with tourism trade constituting 9.3% of overall GDP.
The report also shows the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index which ranks 136 countries worldwide based on their performances on 14 criteria, including safety, ICT readiness, international openness, price competitiveness, and transport infrastructure. Singapore emerges the most competitive among the ASEAN countries and ranking number 13 on the overall index for 2017, followed by Malaysia and Thailand ranking number 26 and 34, respectively. Vietnam makes the list of the most-improved countries in this industry having made great improvements from the last report in 2015.
Over all, countries in the ASEAN Region fare badly on the Environment Sustainability Index with only two countries, namely Singapore(number 51) and Laos(98),making the Top 100 Chart. The rest don’t make the cut. They include the Philippines (number 118), Thailand(122), Malaysia(123), Vietnam(129), Cambodia(130), and Indonesia(131).
Top Ten Countries with the Largest Tourism Industries (GDP)
1. United States ($488 billion)
2. China ($224 billion)
3. Germany ($130.8 billion)
4. Japan ($106.7 billion)
5. United Kingdom ($103.7 billion)
6. France ($89.2 billion)
7. Mexico ($79.7 billion)
8. Italy ($76.3 billion)
9. Spain ($68.8 billion)
10. Brazil ($56.3 billion)
Top Five Countries Most Reliant on Tourism (GDP)
1. Malta – 15%
2. Croatia – 15%
3. Thailand – 9.3%
4. Jamaica – 8.9%
5. Iceland – 8.2%
Top Five ASEAN Countries on the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017, Overall Rank
Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bali, and Tokyo redefined in photo collage: today Living ASEAN chats with Pariwat Anandachina, who has infused an Agoda tourism campaign with lively, colorful imagery.
/// Indonesia, Thailand ///
Agoda.com (of Agoda Company Pte., Ltd.) is one of the largest online booking networks, its more than 100,000 hotel offerings spanning the globe. In collaboration with Singapore’s Saatchi & Saatchi agency, Agoda has created “Agoda Base Camp,” a vibrant and innovative Indonesian tourism ad campaign designed to attract foreigners and Indonesians alike. Pariwat, known for his iconic photo collage art work, was a natural choice to present the campaign to viewers worldwide.
Base Camp features three staples of Indonesian tourism– Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Bali – adding perennial favorite Tokyo, Japan, with pictures of buildings, houses, and people representing local culture and lifestyles from every corner of those cities. The images were cut, mixed, and laid out in Agoda’s five primary colors to illustrate each destination’s highlights and character, as shown here.
Jakarta stands out for its mix of old and new. Here old and new architectural styles appear almost as reflections of each other, different, but fitting together in a charming way.
Yogyakarta/Jogya stands out for its mix of old and new. Here old and new architectural styles appear almost as reflections of each other, different, but fitting together in a charming way.
Bali is highlighted by nature itself, with its gorgeous beaches and healthy activities. This pictorial representation of the island also illustrates ghost worship, animist ceremonies presided over by shamans in colorful robes, and a native fascination with the occult.
Tokyo shows a mix of contemporary life and technological progress with a powerful sense of cultural preservation. This collage is presented in the uniquely Japanese “manga cartoon” style, split into viewing panels as in a comic book.
Pariwat spoke with us about how this four-city promotion came to be represented in his work. “We did extensive research on the highlights and character of each city, looking for ‘what’s hot and what’s not,’ to see what would get folks hooked on going there. Scheduling was a big challenge: we only had half a month to fly everywhere and take our pictures, so had to be creative, sometimes using pictures taken by others, or hotel pictures from Agoda, and these were often hard to match and balance with what we already had.”
The Base Camp campaign will use both printed ads and key visuals in video footage taken by Agoda and enhanced with animation.