The prolonged closure of Bali has been a global media case study for the two-year decline of travel in South East Asia. As it slowly reopens, Gary chats to Bali-based Stuart McDonald, Founder of independent travel information company Travelfish, a prolific travel journalist and a respected voice on tourism in South East Asia. In April 2020, Stuart came onto the show (episode 13) and said: “I think we’re looking at least 2 to 2.5 years from today before any kind of substantial recreational tourism restarts. Obviously, I hope I’m wrong.” He reflects on that statement and describes what has (and hasn't) changed across Bali, including popular destinations such as Canggu, Ubud and Kuta. Having taken a recent trip to Flores, Stuart discusses ongoing development in Labuan Bajo - one of Indonesia's Super Priority tourism investment destinations) - and changes under way at the Komodo National Park. He also recounts tales of diving one of Indonesia's best sites, meeting Bulgarian backpackers and speaking with elders in a beautiful remote village. Plus, why is travel insurance a bigger issue than ever before, and why did Stuart decide to return to study for an MSc in Responsible Tourism Management?
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