Cambodian, Malaysian, and Thai Sentiment: Reopening To Foreign Tourists

by | Dec 6, 2021

As vaccines become more widely available in the Asia-Pacific, countries are beginning to consider reopening their borders, including to tourists. Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand have all either begun to reopen borders to foreign travelers, or have announced plans to do so in the near future. In November 2021, we surveyed 1,400 of our contributors across these three countries to better understand their thoughts on reopening borders to foreign travelers. 

We began the survey with introductory questions to learn more about their overall news awareness regarding their countries reopening their borders. Across all three countries, the vast majority of contributors were aware of such news, with 90% of respondents in Thailand, 81% of respondents in Malaysia, and 76% of respondents in Cambodia all aware of their countries’ plans to reopen borders. 

It is unsurprising that a vast majority of respondents are aware of this news, as the announcements are significant news after nearly two years without international travel and tourism within these countries.

As Southeast Asia is a popular destination for tourism, it is no surprise to see that a majority of  respondents’ income depends on tourism or that someone in their family’s income depends on tourism. 70% of respondents from Cambodia depend on tourism for their livelihood, followed by 38% of respondents from Malaysia, and 37% of respondents from Thailand, respectively.

A majority of respondents in each of the three countries agree or strongly agree with their countries’ decisions to open borders to foreign travelers. Nearly half of respondents from Cambodia strongly agree (49%) with allowing foreign travelers again, with an additional 36% in agreement. Smaller percentages of Thai and Malay respondents were in strong agreement, but still 67% of Malays agree or strongly agree with opening borders to foreign travelers, and 55% of Thais agree or strongly agree with opening borders to foreign travelers. The greater support in Cambodia for opening up to foreign tourists is in line with the greater percentage of Cambodians dependent on tourism. 

Although Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand all see general support for opening up to foreign travelers again, how each country is able to manage the opening with the ongoing pandemic will be extremely important. In addition, whether or not international travelers and tourists feel ready to travel will be very impactful on these nations and their economies. The results from these surveys were collected before the Omicron variant was reported or declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organization. Contact Premise to see the full results of this survey.

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