There are places on our planet that tourists around the world have been favoring for decades. Hawaii, India, Southern Europe—these are examples of popular destinations, gathering millions of foreign visitors annually. Of course, this is so for certain reasons. Unfortunately, the majority of popular tourist places possess a number of inconveniences that can greatly spoil the impression and experience of visiting them. Prices (incredibly high prices, to be exact) are probably the biggest inconvenience: naturally, the more tourists arrive to a certain place, the higher local vendors raise their prices. This is not to mention annoying crowds of foreign people with cameras everywhere, disappearing authenticity (Hawaiian parties, for example, have turned into an attraction for pensioners long ago), and the impossibility to enjoy a new country by yourself.
At the same time, there are many options tourists usually either ignore or underestimate. Earth is a big place, and a lot of exciting things are waiting to be discovered—you only need to change your perspective a bit, and consider travelling scenarios you previously did not pay attention to. One of such options is Southeast Asia, the land of undiscovered wonders.
Of course, some countries of Southeast Asia are rather popular, especially Thailand and Philippines. Alas, they are mostly known as sex capitals of the world, so many people go there primarily for sex; this is even though the cultural, historical, cuisine, and other experiences these countries can offer to a tourist are much more rewarding and impressive than what Bangkok red lights districts can provide. Considering this, this essay will focus on conventional tourism, so to say.
So, what makes Southeast Asia a tourism option you should consider?
The first reason is the prices all across the region: they are ridiculously low. One of the first problems a backpacker needs to solve after arriving in a new country is accommodation. In Southeast Asia—almost everywhere—accommodation is so cheap that for the money a tourist would spend on a hostel in Europe for one week, in this region, he or she could live one month! See for yourself: if you go to Cambodia or Laos, a place in a dorm room would cost you somewhere between $2-5 per day. A night in a Vietnamese hostel will cost you $8-10. Thailand is probably the most expensive on the list, with prices between $6-13. If you are not fond of living with a bunch of unfamiliar people, get ready to pay only $15-20 for a private room. Of course, these prices depend on cities—larger cities and popular tourist destinations will naturally be more expensive, but generally, throughout the entire Southeast Asia, you can find extremely cheap accommodation easily, especially considering there is no need to book a hostel in advance: basically, you show up and rent a room/bed in the spot (NomadicMatt). So, if you are a tourist with a limited budget, worrying about a place to stay for a couple of weeks, Southeast Asia is your choice: staying there is more than affordable.
By the way, the same refers to food. Almost everywhere around Southeast Asia you will be able to find quality street food for low prices. The price for a pack of chewing gum in the United States equals a huge portion of filling, exotic food in Vietnam.
As well as “mainland” Asia, the region possesses ancient history and deep culture closely interconnected with Buddhism. The ruins of Angkor Wat, Javans, Champa, pagodas of Bagan, millenary temples, and shrines—all this and much more awaits a tourist discovering this part of Asia. Relics of the past are so numerous that even if you spend a year in the region, you will probably not be able to see all of them. Along with the ancient times, Southeast Asia has gone through intense political and military turmoils during the recent century. The war in Vietnam, the terror of the Khmer Rouge, the destruction of Laos, Pacific navy battles, Japanese invasions—this is just a tiny part of what was going on here not so long ago. Knowing about the hardships Southeast Asia had gone through, and witnessing its rapid development now, watching incredible contrasts intertwine and combine, it is difficult to not fall in love with this place. Besides, if you are seeking for cultural diversity, Southeast Asia has it all: with such a diversity of languages, customs, ethnicities, religious beliefs, lifestyles, and fashions concentrated on such a relatively small piece of land, your immersion in the atmosphere of this place will be instant, deep, and impressive (Bootsnall.com).
Yet another good argument for a budget tourist visiting Southeast Asia is the convenience and affordability of transportation in the region. Naturally, when you arrive in a new country, you do not want to spend your whole time in one city—you want to see all of what this country can offer, and this often implies using public transport, such as trains or buses. Well, booking transportation in Southeast Asia is easier and cheaper than in many other regions of the world; every big city is flooded with travel agencies offering their services for almost no cost, and even getting to some distant islands is not a problem (Goatsontheroad.com). A bus is usually the cheapest way to travel around the region: a 5-6 hours ride by a bus will cost you only $5-8. Overnight buses are somewhat more costly—10-15 dollars, depending on distance. As for the transportation within big cities, there is only good news for a poor tourist. For example, a bus around Bangkok costs only 10 cents, and the subway, $1. The local train system of Singapore starts its pricing from $1 as well. Taxis and minibuses are usually more expensive, but it is possible to bargain with the drivers, so you can get a price up to two times lower than the one initially suggested by a cab owner. (Nomadicmatt.com). All of which means, in a nutshell, that you will be able to see everything you want, get everywhere, and spend a reasonable amount of money.
Southeast Asia is a unique region with ancient history, rich culture, incredible food, and unique experiences a traveler can get from visiting it. With incredibly low accommodation prices, affordable food, and convenient transportation, this part of Asia is the number one choice for a budget tourist. Therefore, when planning your next trip, you should definitely consider going there.
- “12 Reasons Why Southeast Asia is the Best Place in the World for Backpackers.” BootsnAll Travel Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2016.
- “10 Reasons to Travel to Southeast Asia: A Budget Backpackers Guide.” Goats On The Road. N.p., 12 Oct. 2016. Web. 09 Dec. 2016. .
- Https://www.facebook.com/nomadicmatt. “Southeast Asia Travel Guide.” Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2016. .
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Writing a Persuasive Essay
With over 104 million international arrivals in 2015 and an average growth of 8%, South-East Asia’s travel and tourism industry has incredible potential to help generate growth, create jobs and enable regional development.
But which countries are best positioned to benefit most from the industry? You might not be surprised to find out that beautiful natural sceneries like Halong Bay and iconic cultural landmarks like Angkor Wat aren’t the only factors that determine whether a destination is competitive.
Every year, we release the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, which ranks countries based on a range of policies in place to enable the sustainable development of the sector. The report looks at factors such as how easy it is to do business in a country, specific travel and tourism policies, infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources.
So which are the most competitive countries in South-East Asia? And more importantly, what do they all have in common?
The majority of nations in the region rely on rich natural resources and good prices to appeal to tourists. They also tend to be internationally open, through their visa policies. Governments in the region realize the strategic role tourism plays in creating jobs and support the sector proactively. Still, a large infrastructure (air, road, tourism service infrastructure) and ICT readiness gap remains between the most advanced in the sub-region, especially Singapore and to a lesser extent Malaysia and Thailand versus the rest. At the same time, a handful of countries in the area continue to have declining security perceptions resulting from political developments in recent years, leaving tourists with a sense of unpredictability.
While the best-performing countries have many features in common, they each have their own specificities that set them apart.
Looking at the results, you’ll see that Singapore leads the way, ranking 13th globally. It excels in 8 of the 14 pillars thanks to its strong business environment (2nd), safe and secure environment (6th), capable human resources (5th) and world-class air transport infrastructure (6th). Singapore is also the most open economy in the world, which is supported by extremely strong travel and tourism policies (2nd).
To continue enhancing its competitiveness, Singapore, should focus on enhancing its limited digital marketing and online presence to increase interest in digital demand on both natural and cultural resources associated with Singapore.
Malaysia took the second regional spot, ranking 26th globally. While it dropped one position in the rankings, Malaysia effectively improved its performance in absolute terms, rising from 4.41 in 2015 to 4.50 in the current edition of the report. The country continues to be an attractive destination thanks to its price competitiveness, its strong air connectivity and its beautiful natural resources. Malaysia has made big improvements in its ICT readiness (up 15 positions), its tourism service infrastructure (up 22 positions) and in opening up to the world (up 11 positions).
To further enhance its competitiveness, the government could further prioritize the travel and tourism industry (55th) and invest in the development of its cultural resources and business travel, while addressing environmental sustainability (123rd) and preserving its beautiful natural environment.
Vietnam made significant progress, rising eight places in the global rankings to reach 67th position. The country, which is already endowed with exceptional natural and cultural resources, has significantly benefited from improvements to its human resources and labour market. Vietnam has also made exceptional improvement to its ICT capacity and usage (up 17 positions).
Still, Vietnam could better seize the momentum by focusing more on its environmental sustainability policies. The lax regulations, high levels of emissions, deforestation and limited water treatment are depleting the environment and should be addressed, perhaps at a multilateral level, to build the foundation for a more sustainable development of the region.
Tiffany Misrahi, Community Lead, Aviation, Travel & Tourism Industries, Global Leadership Fellow, World Economic Forum LLC
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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