This week, Gary and Hannah take a virtual trip to Japan - Land of the Rising Sun and, pre-pandemic, an increasingly popular destination for travellers from across South East Asia. Having started the year expecting the biggest ever Sakura festival in history followed by the Tokyo Olympics, 2020 has been particularly unkind to Japan. A so-called "Plague Ship" in Yokohama harbour catalysed a year of uncertainty that saw the Olympics shelved for 12 months, and hopes dashed of welcoming 10 million Chinese arrivals and 40 million visitors overall. The economy is deep in recession and COVID-19 isn't yet under control. Ever a pragmatic nation, though, Japan has plenty of plans for its tourism future. These range from the rescheduled Olympics in 2021 to space trips for super-rich tourists, casino resorts and new theme park dedicated to the hero of Hogwarts.
Three-quarters of 2020 have almost disappeared, but international travel activity remains locked down in South East Asia. We should be gearing up for an October Chinese National Holiday burst then a final quarter tourism surge, but this year we are clutching at straws. This week, Gary and Hannah assess what’s the best, realistically, South East Asia can achieve in the final 3 months of 2020. Are countries looking to salvage the tourism year, or are most planning for the distribution of a vaccine in 2021 (or perhaps late 2020?) The whistle-stop tour through the region looks at the current travel, border and COVID-19 status in each country, and analyses what - if any - clues we might learn about Chinese travel sentiment during the domestic-only upcoming Golden Week.
The Friday Rewind 5: Thai Domestic Travel Delivers Big, MICE Makes Waves in Singapore & Roll on Cambodia 2023
In episode 5 of The Friday Rewind, Gary and Hannah zip through 5 red-hot talking points in South East Asian travel and tourism from the past 7 days - in just 15 minutes. Today’s topics are:
1) Thailand’s Songkran Replacement Holiday Rakes in THB8.8 billion
2) Vietnam Restores Domestic Flights to Danang
3) Singapore Requests Tenders for New Business Events
4) Philippine Airlines & Singapore Airlines to Retrench Staff
5) Cambodia Prepares for its First Ever Major Sporting Event
"This virus is just beating us all, isn't it?" Gary and Hannah fend off feelings of despair on this week's pod, and tackle different approaches for rebooting travel. From Iceland to Bali, Phuket to Maldives, China to New Zealand, we assess what measures have been tried, which are being ruled out, and those that still hold out faint hopes for the near future. En route, we seek to trademark the phrase "Vaccine Bubble," and canvas ideas from travel industry figures in Asia and worldwide on taking those all-important next steps to revive tourism. But with Asian leaders proceeding with extreme caution, and no-one wanting to be the first to fail, are some countries simply waiting it out in anticipation of a vaccine being available in early 2021?
It's been a traumatic year for travel Down Under. The 2019/20 summer season brought devastating bush fires nationwide, with COVID-19 following immediately after. With borders closed for most of 2020, inter-state politics and disagreements are now preventing a domestic travel rebound as summer approaches. This week, Gary and Hannah discuss the combination of factors suffocating inbound, outbound and domestic tourism, and the prospects for an Asian-led recovery in future. We also hear from three experts in business travel, hospitality and inbound operations who provide revealing insights about the broad-ranging reforms needed to breathe new life into Australia's ailing tourism industry.
The Friday Rewind 4: From Bio Bubbles in Phuket to Flight Refund Woes in Philippines and Opening Prisons to Tourists
In episode 4 of The Friday Rewind, Gary and Hannah take a 15-minute zoom through 5 major talking points in South East Asian travel from the past 7 days. Today’s topics are:
1) Japan Takes a Travel Restrictions Mini Tour - The Japanese foreign minister concludes limited border movement deals with 5 countries in South East Asia.
2) Long-Stay Tourism is Safe & Sealed in Thailand - Phuket is selected as a pilot Bio Bubble destination for charter flight tourists from 4 countries in Asia and 3 from Europe.
3) Will Malaysian Borders Stay Shut Until 2021? - The prospects for inbound and outbound travel are receding into the distance, although the government is still floating the notion of selected Travel Bubbles.
4) Philippine Travel Firms Plead for a Lifeline - The return of flight cancellation refunds continues to weigh heavily on travel agencies, who are calling for more financial support.
5) Signs of Tourism Imagination in Fire Stations & Prisons - Innovative travel concepts in Malaysia and Thailand suggest that the creative spirit remains alive even though borders are slammed shut.
After 2 months of high anticipation, Bali has confirmed it will not reopen to international visitors on 11 September. Instead, the Island of the Gods will likely rely on domestic travel only until the end of the year. This is a huge financial and psychological blow for Indonesia's travel economy - but perhaps not a great surprise. This week, Gary and Hannah discuss the national, regional and global factors that conspired against Bali's inbound tourism reboot. What will be the consequences for the tourism sector in Indonesia and South East Asia? And with 2020 fast running out, where do the region's embattled travel businesses turn to next for hope, inspiration and much-needed revenues?
With flight capacity in South East Asia operating at -65% compared to pre-pandemic levels, the region's tourism sector is fighting for its survival. Borders remain slammed shut and airline fleets are largely redundant. The pressure is mounting on domestic tourists to keep the industry afloat. But despite positive stories in the national media, huge challenges exist. Consumers remain wary of taking flights even on short routes, hotels are surviving on weekend bookings, inter-state restrictions apply in some countries, and although large discounts are being offered, domestic travellers are spending cautiously. This week, Gary and Hannah take a trip through Cambodia, Bali, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore to assess whether domestic tourism can provide a stop-gap lifeline until inbound and outbound travel resume. Listen out, too, for a gigantic clap of tropical thunder in mid-pod!
In episode 3 of The Friday Rewind, Gary and Hannah take a 15-minute zoom through 5 major talking points in South East Asian travel from the past 7 days. Today’s discussion points are: ‘The Land of COVID’ - Media, ministers and government spokespeople are lashing out at each other in South East Asia; Zero Tourism Until 2021 in Thailand - Webinar comments by the Deputy Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand go viral around the world; Green Zones to Nowhere for Malaysia - Tourism Minister says that travel bubbles are impossible to negotiate if countries refuse to open their borders; Myanmar & Sri Lanka Prepare for Take Off - Discussions are underway to launch direct flights between Colombo and Yangon, that could also extend to India and Nepal; and Eco-Tourism Inspiration in Laos - Conservation efforts in the nation’s largest protected park offer new hope for sustainability in tourism.
South East Asia is blessed with a spectacular array of island destinations, including the world's largest archipelago and the planet's 2nd, 3rd and 6th-largest islands. With such a diversity of offshore travel options, will more governments promote their islands as test cases to reopen domestic, and perhaps international, tourism? All eyes are currently looking towards Bali and Indonesia, but Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia and Myanmar are among the countries that may promote island tourism above all else. This week's island hop through South East Asia also takes in the latest travel developments across the region. Gary and Hannah also discuss how idyllic island getaways such as Maldives and Seychelles plan to reboot tourism.