Further Blows to ASEAN Tourism as Russia Discourages Travel for their Citizens

Coronavirus, China, Russia, Israel

Ex Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc during an annual meeting in 2019

After China, Japan, South Korea, This is now the turn of both Russia and Israel to discourage their citizens to travel abroad. Thailand and Vietnam are particularly concerned by Russia’s new decision. 

They were already the 29-million Chinese tourists who disappeared overnight as the Chinese government enforced a ban on travel abroad while many ASEAN countries decided to close their doors to Chinese tourists until the Coronavirus COV-19 situation improves. Similar measures have been adopted by ASEAN countries to restrict South Korean travellers to venture abroad while Japan recommended to its citizens to limit their trip abroad.

Last week, Thailand Ministry of Health stated in his well-known refined way of speaking that Thai citizens should avoid travelling abroad and postpone their trip as it ‘could be their last one…” The minister explained that such a measure was essential to help control the number of infections in the country. He also urged airlines and tour companies not to slash prices to lure customers to travel abroad, saying domestic travel should be promoted instead.

Three more countries are now restricting their citizens to venture outside their borders. Israel and most importantly Russia. The latter has asked its citizens to avoid travelling abroad and banned totally travel to countries such as Italy or South Korea.

This would be a further blow for many Southeast Asian nations. Russian travellers represent a sizeable number of tourists in the region. In Thailand, Russians represent the largest number of Europeans at 1.48 million arrivals last year. Same story in Vietnam where they are the largest number of Europeans with 0.64 million arrivals. Indonesia was number three with 159,000 Russian travellers, mostly to Bali Island (143,000 visitors in 2019).

Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines have meanwhile smaller numbers of Russians travellers. Both Malaysia and Singapore welcomed only 81,000 Russian holidaymakers in 2019 while the Philippines recorded a total of 48,100 travellers. While Russian travel restrictions will largely affect Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, it is expected that more countries might implement similar measures to control the pandemic and affect the whole ASEAN.