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.
Airlines have felt the brunt of the collapse of international travel in South East Asia since borders were closed in March 2020. This week, Gary and Hannah talk all things aviation and airlines with Singapore-based Brendan Sobie, founder of Sobie Aviation. We discuss the varying challenges facing flag carriers in South East Asia, including Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Garuda Indonesia and Philippine Airlines. Also, how can LCCs manage to survive if an international travel recovery doesn’t occur any time soon? Against this backdrop, new airlines are making applications to operate, so could the aviation market in Asia Pacific look very different in the coming years? Plus, we talk about the new EU-ASEAN Air Transport Agreement and compare the 2021 outlook for long-haul and short-haul markets. Finally, we assess whether the Phuket Sandbox - and the phased reopening of Thailand - presents a viable model for other countries to welcome back vaccinated leisure travellers.
June 2021 proved to be a another difficult month for governments, citizens, companies and travel policy planners. The fast-spreading Delta variant caused previously COVID-safe countries to take stricter precautions, and worsened the situation in nations still battling to contain the coronavirus. Governmental travails impact every aspect of daily life, work and leisure throughout the region. On the first edition of a new monthly review show, Gary and Hannah look back on 6 headline travel talking points across South East Asia, and beyond. Of course, the Phuket Sandbox and the postponement of Bali's reopening to inbound travellers feature prominently. We also discuss proposed moves to reboot educational travel, compare the current travel situations in Asia, North America and Europe, and analyse a new US venture by one of South East Asia's high-profile tourism players. And which travel operators applied before the deadline for one of Malaysia's soon-to-be-issued Digital Banking licences?
As Phuket and Bali prepare to welcome back international tourists, how are hotels in both destinations getting ready for the vaccinated travel era? On this special edition, Gary and Hannah are joined by Brad Edman, General Manager of Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa &, representing the Phuket Hotels Association (PHA), and Jean Heliere, General Manager of Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach & Chairman of the Bali Hotels Association (BHA). In this in-depth chat, Brad and Jean discuss the deep impacts of COVID-19 for the hotel sectors on both islands, and how Association members have reacted by reaching out to domestic travellers. We also discuss the new health, hygiene and safety standards being put in place, and shifts in marketing and community outreach strategies. Plus, which destinations are the PHA and BHA looking to as case studies for reopening to tourism, which inbound source markets will they target, both initially and longer term, and which airlines might provide the all-important airlift. Finally, how are the two hotel associations sharing insights and intelligence to help rebuild the visitor economies of these popular South East Asian island getaways.
How do you go from filming Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie at Angkor Wat to writing travel guides for Lonely Planet and producing travel video content for Cambodia's Ministry of Tourism? Pretty easy for Nick Ray, Principal at Hanuman Films, Lonely Planet writer for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and an ecotourism consultant with the World Bank. This week, Hannah and Gary chat all things travel, tourism and film production in Cambodia with Nick, who has lived and worked across the country for over two decades. During this compelling chat, we discuss how Cambodia is preparing a Roadmap for Tourism Reopening in collaboration with private sector travel operators. We also chat about intriguing developments in domestic travel during the pandemic, opportunities in culinary tourism and the future role of video content in destination marketing. Plus, we find out how Nick managed to film footage for a BBC TV travel show and a National Geographic series during lockdown, and learn about a fascinating ecotourism project in the the beautiful Cardomom Mountains. Finally, which inbound markets might Cambodia target for its planned reopening to inbound tourists later in 2021?
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