The South East Asia Travel Show

2020: Looking Back On The Year That Changed Travel Forever

To round-out 12 months that no-one will ever forget, Hannah and Gary quiz each other about the travel and tourism issues that dominated 2020. Among the topics discussed are domestic tourism, travel bubbles, the absence of Chinese travellers, Zoominars, slimmed-down airlines, the future of visas, self-drive travel, political travel propaganda, sustainability, 'revenge spend', the future of cruising, PCR and antigen tests, quarantines and vaccine passports. We also select our favourite podcast moments of 2020, and the questions we were both asked most frequently on webinars and interviews. Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, we attempt to answer the ultimate question: "When, realistically, will international travel return to a sustainable level?" Spoiler alert: Hannah is more optimistic than Gary. Roll on 2021!

“It Will Take Upwards of 5 Years to Recover,” with Simon Westaway, Australian Tourism Industry Council

It’s been a torrid year for travel and tourism in Australia. This week, Gary and Hannah chat with Simon Westaway, Executive Director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council. In a candid and insightful interview, Simon discusses a broad sweep of inbound, outbound and domestic travel issues. From the 'Black Summer' bushfire season, Australia quickly encountered COVID-19 with the first infection in late January. The show addresses Australia's key 2020 developments, including the Ruby Princess, border bans, hotel quarantine outbreaks, state border politics and domestic travel in the summer season. With national borders closed until at least March 2021, we look ahead to the vaccine rollout, potential travel bubbles and selected cohorts that might feature in a phased recovery. Key markets, such as China, New Zealand and South East Asia, also merit a mention. Australians are famously adventurous travellers, and Simon also looks to some high-priority destinations once they are able to take overseas trips again.

Welcome to the Age of Vaccine Travelnomics

With over 200 COVID-19 vaccines undergoing clinical trials or early-stage development, and the first vaccines now approved in the UK and Russia, the era of Vaccine Travel is about to unfold. It will bring a tangle of economic, political and social complications. Amid this nascent landscape, the travel industry is trying to forge a way ahead. Already Qantas has said it will require passengers to be vaccinated, while Singapore Airlines and Garuda will be involved in vaccine logistics in South East Asia. Meanwhile, governments are sourcing a cocktail of vaccine supplies from East and West. But what happens when a single-dose vaccine finally gets approved? Will this change everything? This week, Gary and Hannah analyse the current vaccine procurement situation in South East Asia and Asia Pacific, and look ahead to 2021, the Year of Vaccine Travelnomics.

“No-one’s Wearing Masks Any More in Laos,” with Jason Rolan, RDK Group

Before the pandemic, Laos was starting to expand its nascent tourism industry with a surge in arrivals from China and strong visitation from Thailand and Vietnam. Outbound tourism was also booming, But while the pandemic halted those upward curves, Laos has only recorded a total of 39 (yes, thirty-nine!) cases of COVID-19. So what's it been like to live and work in the tourism sector in a genuinely COVID-safe country? This week, Gary and Hannah chat with Jason Rolan, editor-in-chief of Laos Airlines’ in-flight magazine, senior partner at RDK Group, and former country manager for EXO travel, Khiri Group and Buffalo Tours. In this fascinating chat from KL to Vientiane, Jason discusses his involvement in a government campaign to boost domestic trip demand, and his own travels around a tourist-free country. Looking ahead, we analyse the potential impact of the Chinese-built Vientiane-Vang Vieng Highway and the China-Laos High-Speed Railway, which is set to open in late 2021. We also touch on the future of eco-tourism and the challenges ahead for the Laos tourism sector in 2021.

What Next After The Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble?

The Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble kicks off on Sunday 22 November, but concerns are resurfacing across Asia about volatile new COVID-19 waves. Soon after the ATB was launched, Asia's media was rife with speculation about which other countries might launch travel bubbles - either with or without Singapore and Hong Kong. But they seem no nearer to fruition. This week, Gary and Hannah scan the region for signs of travel bubble activity, and report the latest from Australia and New Zealand where hopes for a two-way bubble in 2020 are starting to recede. Plus, there's news of a 'private' travel bubble between Qatar and Maldives, and an assessment of the long-mooted ASEAN Travel Corridor. Will it ever happen?

Singapore & Hong Kong Embark on an Uncharted Era of Travel

Singapore and Hong Kong are both important Asian aviation hubs, commercial centres and travel destinations. But they aren't - or weren't - key source markets for each other in terms of travel and tourism. So, will the Air Travel Bubble create new patterns of travel demand, or is it simply a small stepping stone towards an uncharted era? This week, Gary and Hannah discuss the (pre-COVID-19) travel landscapes of both cities and the vital roles that aviation, airports and airlines contribute to their economies. We also dissect the fine details of the new Air Travel Bubble, and analyse its potential impact in both destinations. And might this agreement catalyse more regional bubbles in South East Asia and beyond - and, perhaps, kickstart concurrent bubbles for Singapore and Hong Kong?

The Friday Rewind 8: Indonesian Flights Boost, Seoul SEA Showcase & Cambodia’s Tuk-Tuk DJs

In episode 8 of The Friday Rewind, Gary and Hannah zip through this week’s 5 top talking points in South East Asian travel and tourism - in less than 20 minutes. This week's hot topics include:

  • Hungarian Foreign Minister Tests Positive in South East Asia
  • Philippines Sets a Ceiling Price for COVID-19 Tests
  • Indonesian Flights Take Off in October
  • ASEAN-Korea Tourism Pavilion Opens in Seoul
  • Tuk-Tuk DJs Tour Phnom Penh in Style

The Friday Rewind 7: High-Speed Trains, More Bubbles & ‘Jurassic Park’ Dragons

In episode 7 of The Friday Rewind, Gary and Hannah zip through this week’s 5 top talking points in South East Asian travel and tourism - in less than 20 minutes. China features prominently this week, with the topics under discussion being: 

  1. Thailand Teams With China for a High-Speed Rail Take Off
  2. Cambodia Wants a China Travel Bubble, or Does It?
  3. Laos Plans Fast Track Travel for China & Vietnam
  4. 'Jurassic Park' Dragons Are Endangered in Indonesia
  5. Malaysia’s Tourism Challenges Keep Multiplying

The Troubles With Travel Bubbles

It's 6 months since Australia and New Zealand first floated the concept of Travel Bubbles. Ever since, it has dominated travel talk as a potential way to safely reopen borders between two countries without requiring a quarantine. But the 2020 travel realities (and the coronavirus itself) have made bilateral bubbles extremely difficult to negotiate, agree and implement. This week, Gary and Hannah discuss the different definitions of air travel bubbles, corridors, fast tracks and green lanes. They also assess three high-profile travel bubbles - Hong Kong-Singapore, Australia-New Zealand and India-Maldives - which illustrate the political, geographical, public health and operational challenges that stand in the way of more agreements.  

Airlines & Airports Fight to Survive Across South East Asia

Well, things certainly seem to be moving, with plenty of travel announcements, gossip and rumours. But the region’s aviation industry is still struggling after several months in international inactivity. This week, Gary and Hannah discuss two pieces of positive news, the Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble and the Philippines enabling its citizens to travel outbound. But airlines in Malaysia and Indonesia are desperately trying to restructure their mounting losses and debts. Will more big-name carriers fall, or instead will they shift their operations to low-cost subsidiaries? And where are new airline licenses being awarded and new airports nearing completion? Plus, how are South East Asia's primary and secondary airports faring after months of near-derelict terminals? 

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