Inbound vs Outbound vs Domestic. With Phuket and Bali focused on attracting international visitors, how will outbound and domestic travel be incorporated into tourism planning across South East Asia in future? After 15 months of border closures and a reliance on domestic travel only, Gary and Hannah discuss how Thailand and Indonesia are leading the charge to reboot inbound tourism. Domestic travel, though, appears to have assumed less importance. Meanwhile neither country is looking yet at attracting travellers from fellow ASEAN countries, as outbound travel remains static due to government restrictions. What, for instance, will Bali's plan to welcome back vaccinated and non-vaccinated foreign tourists mean for domestic travellers? And which other countries might also look to bring back inbound travel to the region? Cambodia perhaps? Vietnam? And who would be their target markets? And what are the near-term prospects for intra-ASEAN travel, which accounted for around one-third of annual arrivals into there region in 2019? Oh yes, and what about travel insurance premiums? And visas? And digital passports? It's a packed show!
Thailand, and specifically Phuket, is central to tourism discussions in South East Asia right now. To check the inbound reopening pulse, Gary and Hannah chat with David Luekens, Bangkok-based travel journalist and creator of the Thai Island Times newsletter. The discussion looks back on the various proposals by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Thai government to reboot tourism over the past year, and the reasons for the failure of the Special Tourist Visa. David also discusses the stop-start nature of domestic travel over recent months, and the impact of the recent COVID-19 outbreaks. With Thailand expected to confirm the Phuket Sandbox reopening programme soon, we assess the challenges and opportunities both for Phuket, and Thai tourism more broadly. We also look at the strategies of destinations such as Koh Samui and Chiang Mai, and David updates us on the progress of Thailand’s vaccine rollout out a it starts to gain momentum
Golf and casino tourism were booming across South East Asia and Asia Pacific before the pandemic - but both sectors face an uncertain future. This week, Gary and Hannah chat with Bill Healey, a hospitality, golf and casino tourism expert who has lived and worked in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Bali. Bill was developing an Asian golf trip booking app in Cambodia before the pandemic struck, and returned to the US expecting to return within a few months. In this fascinating chat, Bill reflects on the growth trajectories of golf and casino tourism in the region over recent years, and the various challenges being faced now and potential opportunities in future. We also talk about vaccine passports, contactless hotel services and revenue management applications. And with Bill currently being based in Las Vegas, we get his take on how casino tourism is recovering along the world-famous Vegas Strip.
Will Bali reopen for inbound tourism next month? This week, Gary and Hannah are delighted to welcome back Stuart McDonald, Bali-based founder of Travelfish, to talk all things travel and tourism in Bali and beyond. Bali originally planned to reopen to international tourists last September, but that was postponed. It’s now aiming for July 2021, but will it happen? Much relies on two things, getting sufficient residents vaccinated and finding inbound markets that will permit their citizens to visit Bali. Stuart discusses how COVID-19 has impacted travel businesses and daily life around Bali, the outlook for domestic tourism and the current economic situation in Bali and Indonesia. He also addresses the ‘Digital Nomad Visa’ and ‘Work From Bali’ proposals, potential competition for visitors with Phuket and media articles about the behaviour of foreign visitors in Bali's beach towns. We also assess the challenges for reopening tourism elsewhere in South East Asia, such as Singapore, Cambodia and Laos, and the prospect of tourism adopting a more sustainable stance in future.
This week, Gary and Hannah chat with Charlotte Louwman-Vogels, CEO of Fair Tourism, a non-profit foundation based in the Netherlands that does commendable community-based tourism (CBT) work in Thailand. During this intriguing chat, Charlotte discusses how she assisted the Kayan tribe in Huay Pu Keng to transition from being a commercial show village into a self-sustaining tourism community managed by the locals themselves. She discusses the role that tour operators and DMCs can play to support and promote sustainable tourism so that it empowers rather than exploits local communities, and how Fair Tourism is working with university students in destinations ranging from Australia to Kenya and Jordan. Charlotte also addresses the emerging challenges for CBT during the pandemic and beyond, and the role young people can play in making transformational tourism more meaningful for hosts and visitors.
"Vietnam was really hot in 2019," says Sydney-based Kerry Newsome, Australian Manager of ITS Vietnam and host of the What About Vietnam podcast. Kerry supports Australian travel agents wanting to sell tours to Vietnam, and accompanies travel groups in Vietnam. She was in the country right before the closure of borders in March 2020 working to help Australian tourists return home before COVID-19 lockdowns took hold. In this fascinating interview, she tells Gary and Hannah about her passion for the landscapes, cuisines and cultures of Vietnam, and how adventurous Australians were increasingly eager to experience more of the country. Kerry also discusses how her company ITS Vietnam has adapted to the pandemic era, the prospects for Vietnam reopening to international travel and the future outlook for Australian travellers into Vietnam and South East Asia.
On this week’s show, Gary and Hannah take a break from Travel Bubbles, PCR Tests and Reopening Strategies. Instead, the show builds a virtual guide of all the travel resources that we read, watch and listen to when researching the show, and producing our own weekly reports. The South East Asia Travel Show Resources Guide surveys the information, media and data landscape, and discusses how it’s developed and diversified since COVID-19 took hold. The multimedia mix extends from travel webinars, podcasts and weekly and monthly reports to newspaper websites, vaccine trackers, airline and and hotel dashboards and COVID-19 infection aggregators. Plus, some of the very best e-newsletters that have emerged in recent months by local writers in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bali.
With the COVID-19 pandemic now in its 14th month, what have we learned and how will those lessons be – or not be – applied in future? This week, Gary and Hannah take on some of the ‘big picture’ talking points in travel and tourism in ASEAN. The show asks, and tries to answer, 7 critical questions: 1) What do travel and tourism mean today, and do we have a different outlook than before the pandemic? 2) What have been the biggest changes for the travel industry - which will be temporary, and will any be permanent? 3) What has been the most overlooked development so far? 4) What have we learned in the first 4 months of 2021, and is the current outlook different than expected at the end of 2020? 5) Are travel bubbles relevant any more now that we have vaccines? 6) Realistically, what are the expectations for travel and tourism in South East Asia in 2021 - and will there be a noticeable ‘turning point’? 7) Looking further ahead, what are the reasons to be optimistic, and what are the pessimistic factors?