Chinese tourists revive Southeast Asian tourism Post-Covid

Chinese tourists boost tourism in Southeast Asia post-COVID, surpassing pre-pandemic levels in popular tourist destinations.

Chinese tourists have surged back to popular tourist destinations across Asia during the Lunar New Year holiday, surpassing pre-pandemic levels in countries like Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. The reinstatement of visa-free access for Chinese travelers to Southeast Asian nations has significantly contributed to this revival, marking a robust resurgence in travel following the easing of strict Covid restrictions in China since early 2023.

This influx of Chinese visitors comes as a relief to economies heavily reliant on tourism, although concerns linger over the sustainability of the recovery amid a sluggish mainland economy and volatile markets. Despite these challenges, there remains optimism regarding continued spending on travel-related experiences among Chinese citizens, according to analysts at HSBC.


Data from travel platforms like and reveal a substantial increase in bookings and hotel occupancy rates in destinations such as Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. Additionally, spending via platforms like Alipay has seen significant growth, indicating a resurgence in consumer confidence among Chinese travelers.

In particular, the Middle East has emerged as a popular destination for Chinese tourists during the Lunar New Year period, with a notable increase in travel to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Moreover, Macau, the only region in China where gambling is legal, experienced a significant influx of tourists, providing a boost to the local economy and casino operators.

While the return of tourists to these destinations signals positive momentum for the global travel industry, there are notable shifts in traveler behavior. Chinese tourists are increasingly opting for experience-based trips over traditional shopping-focused itineraries, as reflected in higher spending on food and beverages and a surge in bookings for scenic experiences and car rentals.

As countries continue to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic, the resurgence of Chinese tourism in Southeast Asia and beyond offers a glimmer of hope for the broader tourism sector’s recovery. However, stakeholders will need to remain vigilant and adaptable to sustain this positive momentum in the face of ongoing uncertainties.