Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago, and counts the planet's fourth largest population. It is also South East Asia's largest country and its biggest economy. The size, scale and diversity of the nation have been decisive factors for its long struggle to contain COVID-19, and the immense logistical challenges of inoculating its people. That said, significant progress is being made, and although the reopening of Bali to international travellers has faded from view for now, a cautious optimism exists for the future. So in Part 8 of our 2021: The Year So Far In… series, Gary and Hannah head to Indonesia to chat with Bali-based Julia Winterflood, who is Head Writer of The Bali Beat and a journalist for Travel Weekly Asia. Julia discusses new trends in domestic tourism that have emerged, and the fascinating concept of "tourist villages". We also update the latest vaccination figures nationwide and in Bali itself, analyse the structural impact on Indonesia's travel economy and learn the attitudes among young people about what tourism means to them. Finally, we address the much-discussed concept of "mass tourism" vs "quality tourism".
From 4.3 billion down to 0 - and an array of figures in between. On this special extra edition in the "2021: The Year So Far in ASEAN" series, Gary and Hannah crunch the year’s distressing travel numbers. We created a list of 2021 statistics that, taken together, sum up what has been another very difficult year so far in South East Asia. En route, we assess the current vaccine rollout figures, the staggering drop in ASEAN’s air travel capacity, and chart the slide in Thailand’s visitor arrivals projections. Plus, what links ‘28,955’ with 2021’s biggest travel story, and why does ‘2’ still define the region’s top travel story in 2020? Which country is implementing a 28-day quarantine, and which one registered 6% hotel occupancy in June? And, which high-profile airport saw its first half-year passenger movements slump from 12.03 million in 2020 to 951,000 in 2021? Finally, when it comes to 0, which nations in ASEAN and Asia Pacific are still following a Zero Covid strategy? Sadly, the numbers tell some salutary stories about the current state of travel and tourism in South East Asia.
The Philippines is South East Asia's second largest nation with a population of more than 110 million. While it has struggled to contain COVID-19 from the outset, travel sentiment remains strong. This week, in Part 4 our “2021: The Year So Far” series, Gary and Hannah chat with Manila-based Feliz Axalan, General Manager at Tradewings Tours & Travel. Feliz joins us from Switzerland, having spent 3 months travelling in Europe, including Spain, Greece and Switzerland. She compares the travel summer in Europe with the current situations in the Philippines and elsewhere in South East Asia. We also discuss a complex year for domestic travel restrictions, the current vaccination situation in the Philippines and the prospects for reopening to inbound travel. At the same time, Filipinos are eager to board outbound flights once quarantine restrictions are eased. Feliz discusses the destinations that are hot tickets for customers intending to book ahead, and the new tech systems that travel sector players are putting in place to meet an expected surge in demand.
The spectacular country of Laos has been overshadowed as more prominent destinations in South East Asia attempt to reopen for tourism. Laos, though, has tentatively set in motion its own reopening plan. So, this week, Gary and Hannah tackle developments in the year so far in Laos with Jason Rolan, who is Senior Partner of Vientiane-based RDK Group. Jason was last on the show in November 2020, when Laos was COVID-safe. Since then, infection waves have disrupted the nation's Zero Covid strategy, and brought movement restrictions. That said, Laos remains a case study of successful containment in ASEAN. With international borders still closed, Jason describes some new trends in domestic tourism over recent months, including self-drive trips and Insta-travel. We also assess how the economic slowdown is hampering travel activity. And, of course, we delve into transport infrastructure projects, including the Vientiane-Vang Vieng expressway, plus the China-Laos high-speed railway. This inaugural part of China's ambitious pan-ASEAN railway is slated to become operational on 2 December, Laos National Day. Will it start on time, and what benefits could the new train line deliver for inbound travel from China? And how could could super-fast rail travel transform domestic vacations in Laos?
July 2021 saw the Delta variant spread at an accelerated speed through the region. It now dominates every aspect of economics, social and health policy and daily discourse. On the monthly review show, Gary and Hannah unravel this month's worrying statistics from across South East Asia, plus China, Japan and South Korea. We also analyse what the worsening COVID-19 situation combined with variable speeds of vaccine rollout will mean for proposed tourism reopenings in Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. And what about Singapore, where the government has signalled that quarantine-free travel could commence for vaccinated travellers from September... Where will Singaporeans be able to go, and who will be able to visit the city state? Finally, we look at how the pandemic is dislocating entire parts of the travel industry chain, with deepening impacts for other sectors of the economy, ranging from catering to coffee to meat and livestock.
The US and Canadian travel sectors were upturned by COVID-19. However, accelerated vaccination rates and pent-up desire for domestic trips are creating a partial summer rebound. Inbound and outbound markets remain subdued, and an upturn may take time. On today's show, Gary and Hannah welcome Vancouver-based Ernst Flach, Executive Director at Wagstaff Media and Marketing, to discuss all things travel and tourism in North America. We dig through the current trends in the US and Canada, the protocols for travelling in and out of each country and an encouraging rebound for travel advisors. We also look at where US and Canadian travellers that are taking an overseas vacation this summer are heading, and the outlook for the rest of 2021 and beyond. In addition, we address the trajectory for regrowth in business travel and the airline, car rental and cruise* sectors. Plus, when will Americans and Canadians return to South East Asia – and how can marketers tap an expansion of outbound travel from North America?
* Since the show was recorded, Ernst has confirmed that Canada will welcome cruise ships from November. Canada has also announced it may open to fully vaccinated Americans from mid-August, and to other countries by September.
So, two weeks into the 2nd half of 2021 – and the travel outlook remains rather gloomy. That said, there has been plenty to talk about, and in the 35th podcast of the year, Gary and Hannah take a critical look back … and forward. We compiled a list of the Top 10 Travel Talking Points of 2021 So Far, and a second list of the potential Top 10 Travel Talking Points for the Second Half of 2021. Looking back, we assess the current and long-term impact of a second consecutive Chinese New Year blowout, plus the extension of Singapore's Cruises to Nowhere season, the Phuket Sandbox, and the Delta Variant. Looking ahead, we discuss vaccine mixing, emerging pressures on government finances and currencies in key economies, and concerns that a new COVID-19 variant could emerge in Indonesia - South East Asia's largest and hardest hit nation. On a brighter note, we pick our two 'dark horse' markets that could bring a little optimism later in 2021.