It's all about ASEAN! This week, Hannah and Gary take a journey through the history of ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations. Established in 1967, ASEAN brings together the 10 countries of the hugely diverse region of South East Asia. Since founding the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, ASEAN has positioned itself as a "Third Force" in Asia Pacific, after China & India. Will it expand further (Timor Leste, Australia?), and why is ASEAN integral to the newly signed RCEP trade agreement in Asia Pacific? Most importantly, how will ASEAN influence the future of the aviation, cruise, travel and tourism sectors in a post-pandemic world? Will there be an ASEAN Air Travel Bubble, and can South East Asia really be promoted as a single tourism destination?
What are the realistic expectations for travel and tourism in 2021 in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines & Vietnam? Which will be the primary 'comeback markets', and what will be the influence of mega markets like China, India and the Middle East? Plus, will vaccine rollouts prove to be a magic bullet or a harbinger of false hopes? Are Travel Bubbles dead? And when should travel players start to diversify from their domestic-only strategies and prepare for the return of international travel? This special edition of The South East Asia Travel Show features a webinar debate between Gary, Hannah and Brett Henry, President of Jakarta-based MG Group - as we set the scene for travel and tourism in South East Asia during the transitional COVID-19 phase.
In the second of a two-part appraisal of travel and tourism in South East Asia in 2021, Gary and Hannah run through numbers #12 to #21 on their 21-point wish list. "Cautious Optimism" is a widely used phrase, but tightened restrictions in Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong and, most likely in Malaysia, suggest 2021 is going to be another challenging year. Topics discussed include creating long-term strategies for domestic travel, more imaginative approaches to marketing self-drive and culinary tourism, and increased attention on climate change and earth-friendliness in travel. Plus, can hotels and airlines be more flexible, more innovative and introduce new services while keeping down staff and operational costs?
2020 was an awful year, but do we just write it off and discard it, or should we dig deeper to understand how travel and travel consumers have changed? What are the meaningful lessons to learn and apply? Gary and Hannah kick off 2021 by running through a 21-point wish list to revitalise travel and tourism in South East Asia. Topics discussed in Part 1 include adapting the learnings from domestic travel, a broader remit for tourism industry stimulus packages and competing on destination differentiation rather than price slashing. We also how ask how technology can be used more effectively, address the the "Urban" vs "Nature" and "High Yield" vs "Mass" tourism debates, and look at the prospects for vaccine rollouts, and the dreaded 14-day quarantine. Plus, what will be the role of National Tourism Boards in the post-pandemic era - are they still relevant, or should tourism planning and development be decentralised?
To round-out 12 months that no-one will ever forget, Hannah and Gary quiz each other about the travel and tourism issues that dominated 2020. Among the topics discussed are domestic tourism, travel bubbles, the absence of Chinese travellers, Zoominars, slimmed-down airlines, the future of visas, self-drive travel, political travel propaganda, sustainability, 'revenge spend', the future of cruising, PCR and antigen tests, quarantines and vaccine passports. We also select our favourite podcast moments of 2020, and the questions we were both asked most frequently on webinars and interviews. Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, we attempt to answer the ultimate question: "When, realistically, will international travel return to a sustainable level?" Spoiler alert: Hannah is more optimistic than Gary. Roll on 2021!
“It Will Take Upwards of 5 Years to Recover,” with Simon Westaway, Australian Tourism Industry Council
It’s been a torrid year for travel and tourism in Australia. This week, Gary and Hannah chat with Simon Westaway, Executive Director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council. In a candid and insightful interview, Simon discusses a broad sweep of inbound, outbound and domestic travel issues. From the 'Black Summer' bushfire season, Australia quickly encountered COVID-19 with the first infection in late January. The show addresses Australia's key 2020 developments, including the Ruby Princess, border bans, hotel quarantine outbreaks, state border politics and domestic travel in the summer season. With national borders closed until at least March 2021, we look ahead to the vaccine rollout, potential travel bubbles and selected cohorts that might feature in a phased recovery. Key markets, such as China, New Zealand and South East Asia, also merit a mention. Australians are famously adventurous travellers, and Simon also looks to some high-priority destinations once they are able to take overseas trips again.
With over 200 COVID-19 vaccines undergoing clinical trials or early-stage development, and the first vaccines now approved in the UK and Russia, the era of Vaccine Travel is about to unfold. It will bring a tangle of economic, political and social complications. Amid this nascent landscape, the travel industry is trying to forge a way ahead. Already Qantas has said it will require passengers to be vaccinated, while Singapore Airlines and Garuda will be involved in vaccine logistics in South East Asia. Meanwhile, governments are sourcing a cocktail of vaccine supplies from East and West. But what happens when a single-dose vaccine finally gets approved? Will this change everything? This week, Gary and Hannah analyse the current vaccine procurement situation in South East Asia and Asia Pacific, and look ahead to 2021, the Year of Vaccine Travelnomics.
Before the pandemic, Laos was starting to expand its nascent tourism industry with a surge in arrivals from China and strong visitation from Thailand and Vietnam. Outbound tourism was also booming, But while the pandemic halted those upward curves, Laos has only recorded a total of 39 (yes, thirty-nine!) cases of COVID-19. So what's it been like to live and work in the tourism sector in a genuinely COVID-safe country? This week, Gary and Hannah chat with Jason Rolan, editor-in-chief of Laos Airlines’ in-flight magazine, senior partner at RDK Group, and former country manager for EXO travel, Khiri Group and Buffalo Tours. In this fascinating chat from KL to Vientiane, Jason discusses his involvement in a government campaign to boost domestic trip demand, and his own travels around a tourist-free country. Looking ahead, we analyse the potential impact of the Chinese-built Vientiane-Vang Vieng Highway and the China-Laos High-Speed Railway, which is set to open in late 2021. We also touch on the future of eco-tourism and the challenges ahead for the Laos tourism sector in 2021.
The Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble kicks off on Sunday 22 November, but concerns are resurfacing across Asia about volatile new COVID-19 waves. Soon after the ATB was launched, Asia's media was rife with speculation about which other countries might launch travel bubbles - either with or without Singapore and Hong Kong. But they seem no nearer to fruition. This week, Gary and Hannah scan the region for signs of travel bubble activity, and report the latest from Australia and New Zealand where hopes for a two-way bubble in 2020 are starting to recede. Plus, there's news of a 'private' travel bubble between Qatar and Maldives, and an assessment of the long-mooted ASEAN Travel Corridor. Will it ever happen?
Singapore and Hong Kong are both important Asian aviation hubs, commercial centres and travel destinations. But they aren't - or weren't - key source markets for each other in terms of travel and tourism. So, will the Air Travel Bubble create new patterns of travel demand, or is it simply a small stepping stone towards an uncharted era? This week, Gary and Hannah discuss the (pre-COVID-19) travel landscapes of both cities and the vital roles that aviation, airports and airlines contribute to their economies. We also dissect the fine details of the new Air Travel Bubble, and analyse its potential impact in both destinations. And might this agreement catalyse more regional bubbles in South East Asia and beyond - and, perhaps, kickstart concurrent bubbles for Singapore and Hong Kong?