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Issue #87 - 10 Asia Pacific Travel Stories You May Have Missed This Week
Updates from Indonesia, Laos, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and more.
Welcome to Issue 87 of Asia Travel Re:Set…
The global economic mood soured this week.
Stock markets shuddered, interest rates are rising and growth forecasts are trending downward. Previously buoyant sectors, such as Asian tech and e-commerce, are shedding jobs.
Subdued economic sentiment is raising red flags for Asia Pacific’s travel sector.
As I wrote in Issue 79, Dark Clouds Gather Over South East Asia’s Travel Recovery, these effects will be cumulative. There is significant turbulence up ahead.
So, last week’s selection of 10 stories that travelled under the radar proved pretty popular - so let’s do is all again…
Thanks for being onboard.
The Sunday Itinerary
- “IN THE NEWS”
- 10 Asia Pacific Travel Stories You May Have Missed This Week
Updates from Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and more
- Revitalising Greater Mekong Tourism
Destination Mekong is exploring new development models in the 6-country region
“IN THE NEWS”
This week, I was interviewed by Malaysia’s business radio station, BFM, to discuss the human resource challenges in travel and tourism, and the art of good service in hospitality. The live radio interview was converted into this short podcast.
10 Asia Pacific Travel Stories You May Have Missed This Week
1) ‘Slow’ Tourism Forecast in Japan
The Japan Tourism Agency says it has received 1,300 applications from group travellers for its heavily restricted and capped reopening to international tourists, which commenced on 10 June. The agency expects most visitors in the initial phase to arrive from “South East Asian countries, South Korea and the United States.”
2) Departures vs Arrivals in New Zealand
This week, New Zealand removed the requirement for travellers to take a pre-departure Covid test from 20 June. New Zealand is preparing to fully reopen its borders. In April, however, more people departed than arrived. Stats NZ revealed that 97,093 New Zealanders exited compared to 54,303 tourism entries. That equates to “about 18% of tourist arrivals in pre-pandemic April 2019.”
3) Chinese Tourist Hopes in Thailand
Draw Your Own Conclusions, Part 1. In a week that Thailand pledged to remove its Thailand Pass bureaucracy plus most Covid-19 restrictions and promote cannabis tourism, its biggest market remained in focus. China, which provided almost 11 million visitors in 2019, is vital to Thailand’s tourism recovery. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has consistently stated that it expects to receive some group tour Chinese tourists in the fourth quarter of this year. This week, it estimated that welcoming “up to 500,000 Chinese visitors” remains, theoretically, possible In 2022.
4) Tourism and Sustainable Goals in Indonesia
Draw Your Own Conclusions, Part 2. Indonesia’s Deputy Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Angela Tanoesoedibjo, told a UNWTO commission meeting that the nation’s tourism sector “has played an important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.” This may come as a surprise given mass-scale tourism construction in places like Likupang, controversial tourism developments in Komodo National Park (about which UNESCO has voiced concerns) and emission-pumping static traffic in southern Bali as more visitors return.
5) Coral Bleaching in Vietnam
Coral reef degradation is making news across the region. Last month, Australian scientists revealed “more than 90% of Great Barrier Reef coral surveyed this year was bleached.” This week, Vietnam News reported coral reefs in the 160 sq/km Nha Trang Bay Marine Protected Area are threatened by “massive bleaching.” The report notes that “In addition to the impact of climate change, the Hòn Mun coral reef has been under pressure from economic development.” This, let’s remember, is designated as a “protected area”. And the killer line… “Coral restoration in Nha Trang is not easy - culturing a coral reef could take thousands or even millions of years.”
6) Airlines Were “Totally Unprepared” in Asia Pacific
Mirroring a trend seen in Australia, Europe and North America, understaffed airports and airlines have struggled to cope with passenger traffic surges at peak times. This interesting article from Bloomberg reports examples of airport demand spikes in Sydney, Mumbai, Kolkata and Singapore.
7) “Positive Indicator” in the Philippines
Euphemisms are aplenty to describe “encouraging momentum” in South East Asia’s travel and tourism recovery. Figures this week from The Philippines Department of Tourism show that tourism accounted for 5.2% of the nation’s GDP in 2021, slightly up from 5.1% in 2020. With almost 700,000 inbound arrivals so far this year and a recovery in domestic travel, there are “positive indicators” for 2022.
8) “10 + 7” in Macao
Macao published its revised Gaming Law this week, and raised gaming tax by 1%. The computations are fairly complex, as examined in this article by Asia Gaming Brief. Macao also reduced the Covid-19 quarantine period, but it remains high: 10 days mandatory in a hotel followed by 7 days of self-assessment. “I don’t believe tourists will be willing to take that,” said Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office.
9) Riding the Rails in Laos
This newsletter and The South East Asia Travel Show have previously covered the China-Laos railway, which opened in December. Currently, passenger services are only operating within Laos until China permits cross-border travel once more. With a small number of tourists (and quite a few travel writers) now returning to Laos, Nomadic Notes (aka James Clark) produced this detailed review (with plenty of photos)of riding the train through this beautiful land-locked country.
10) Jumbo Departure in Hong Kong
After 46 years, the colourful Jumbo Floating Restaurant was towed by tugboats out of Aberdeen Harbour. Capable of serving up to 2,300 diners, it was once a staple tourism attraction, and it featured in several movies. Jumbo is tipped to reopen outside of Hong Kong, possibly in mainland China. [On Monday 20 June, it was reported that the Jumbo sank in the South China Sea near the Parcel Islands.]
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Revitalising Greater Mekong Tourism
The Greater Mekong Region, comprising Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, is seeking new models to develop and promote tourism after the ravages of Covid-19. On this week’s The South East Asia Travel Show, we chatted about the challenges ahead with Phnom Penh-based Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of Destination Mekong, a regional destination marketing organisation bridging private sector travel players and the Tourism Ministries of the 6 Greater Mekong countries.
Listen to Revitalising Greater Mekong Tourism, with Catherine Germier-Hamel, here:
Or search for The South East Asia Travel Show on any podcast platform.
And, that’s a wrap for Issue 86.
Until next week, find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, the Asia Travel Re:Set website and The South East Asia Travel Show - where this week we’ll be chatting to Melina Caruso and Simona Chimenti of the Bali Hotels Association.