This time last year, our 2020 in Review show described it as “12 months that no-one will ever forget.” We could say exactly the same for 2021. Long periods of lockdown throughout South East Asia, stop-start domestic travel, governments moving forwards and backwards and strict border policies in place. There were a few bright spots, but not as many as hoped for, or perhaps expected. So, for the 2021 in Review show Gary and Hannah created a list of 10 events and developments that will always remind us of this year, plus 4 more that bubbled just beneath. The only spoiler alert is in the headline of this podcast - so, please listen and let us know your thoughts and comments on our selection of the 10 definitive impacts on travel and tourism in South East Asia in 2021. Roll on 2022!
As the world awaits definitive scientific conclusions about the transmissibility and viral impact of Omicron, travel developments in South East Asia have been few and far between. Governments continue to be cautious and defensive. On today’s show, we’ve got the latest updates from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, where a “will it, won’t it?” drama is playing out regarding the phased reopening for international flights. So what is it like to travel from South East Asia to Australia during a time of such uncertainty and administrative overload? On today’s show, Gary chats with Melina Caruso, Business Development Director of the Bali Hotels Association, who recently completed a roundabout journey from Bali to Melbourne, via Jakarta and Singapore – and back. From her quarantine hotel, Melina talks in detail about the multiple new challenges for making trips that we once took for granted. She also provides valuable insights for anyone preparing to embark for the first time during the pandemic.
This was the week that Omicron caused the return of flight bans, quarantines and an overall retreat from travel across South East Asia. It now appears that Singapore has recorded the region’s first cases. We've got the latest updates from the Philippines and Indonesia, as they turn away from travel reopenings. More optimistically, the first US-Vietnam direct commercial flights by a Vietnamese carrier landed this week. The pandemic has disrupted every aspect of travel and tourism over nearly two years, including the work of NGOs. Gary chats with Ho Chi Minh City-based Sophie Hartman, Regional Coordinator for the Association of Southeast Asian Social Enterprises for Training in Hospitality & Catering. Asset H&C brings together vocational training centres in four ASEAN countries to help vulnerable young people to learn new skills in sustainable hospitality and tourism, and has just published a responsible travel guide in local languages for its training schools. To finish, we've got clips from this week's The South East Asia Travel Show, in which Gary and Hannah tackle the emerging issues as countries across South East Asia and worldwide erect new travel barriers
Here we go again! “Omicron’s very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with COVID-19, it is not done with us," said the WHO this week. The emergence of a new 'variant of concern' is striking fear across South East Asia after the damage the Delta variant caused earlier in 2021 - and continues to cause in some countries of the region. Omicron events have already moved quickly, as governments around the world erect new travel barriers and quarantines come back into fashion. On today's show, Gary and Hannah assess the current Omicron situation across South East Asia, Asia Pacific and beyond. We also discuss the potential direct and indirect impacts on the region's gradual reopening, which was starting the gain momentum until late last week. What could the new variant mean as the Christmas/New Year and the Lunar New Year travel periods draw near? Plus, might this present new opportunities to scale up regional travel agreements and prevent the recent progress from descending into a retreat from travel?
The spectacular country of Laos has been overshadowed as more prominent destinations in South East Asia grab the reopening headlines. Laos has tentatively set in motion its own reopening plan – and is about to make its mark on the global news agenda with the opening of the China-Laos Railway. For the latest news from Laos, Gary chats with Jason Rolan, who is Senior Partner of Vientiane-based RDK Group. We have news about the upcoming land border Vaccinated Travel Lane between Malaysia and Singapore and the latest on the Philippines' reopening plans. Plus, concerns in Vietnam as its limited scale reopening coincides with a resurgence of COVID-19 infections nationwide. Hannah dials in to report on the first MATTA Fair, Malaysia's largest consumer travel show, for two years. We finish the show with an upbeat forecast about the travel outlook for 2022 in South East Asia by Dan Lynn, Co-founder of Singapore-based Zuzu Hospitality.
As the 2021 festive travel season draws near, the green shoots of recovery are emerging, even if South East Asia's reopening landscape remains patchy. On today’s show, Gary checks the region's travel and hotel booking temperature with Dan Lynn, Co-founder of Singapore-based Zuzu Hospitality. Dan’s career also includes senior management roles with Expedia, the AirAsia-Expedia joint venture and eLong. We discuss how Zuzu refocused its services to meet the shifting operational challenges of its hotel clients during the pandemic, and into the early days of recovery. We also talk about the way forward for online travel booking in South East Asia. Plus, how will Singapore's Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme further evolve, how can Thailand and Cambodia build on their recent restarts - and which ASEAN country is "on the cusp" of a scalable travel reopening? We finish by assessing the outlook for 2022, and the prospects for the greater normalisation of travel for a new era.
After sustained speculation, Cambodia this week surprised South East Asia by announcing that quarantine-free entry would apply for vaccinated travellers from every country worldwide. On episode 3 of our weekly news and current affairs show, Gary assesses the challenges ahead as Cambodia seeks to reboot its visitor economy. He also analyses the arrival of Vietnam’s first charter flights and the expansion of Singapore's VTL scheme to 21 countries. With a Singapore-Malaysia VTL starting soon, Gary chats with Shukor Yusof, CEO of Endau Analysts, for expert insights on the outlook for airlines, airports and travellers in Singapore and Malaysia. The show finishes in Bangkok, where restaurateur Jarrett Wrisley recently closed his acclaimed, and very popular Soul Food Mahanakorn restaurant. Jarrett speaks powerfully about the deep damage done to Bangkok’s dining scene during the pandemic, and looks back fondly on its halcyon days before COVID-19 took hold.
Having studied Chinese in Beijing, and worked as a restaurant critic in Shanghai, Jarrett Wrisley worked on a TV shoot in Chengdu with Anthony Bourdain. Shortly after, he moved to Bangkok and opened his own restaurant. Soul Food Mahanakorn quickly developed a local and global following, and became a crucible of contemporary Thai cooking with American accents. This week, Gary chats with Jarrett - who is a former colleague in Shanghai - about the 2010s era of inspiring culinary creativity in Bangkok. At the height of Soul Food Mahanakorn's powers - and having opened other restaurants in Bangkok and a spin-off in Hong Kong - COVID-19 intervened. Tourists were locked out, and local dining preferences changed. The subsequent months saw the collapse of a once thriving and dynamic dining scene, and resulted in Jarrett closing his beloved restaurant. Frustrated by the situation in Thailand, he decide to leave. Having written a culinary road trip book in Italy, he pondered his next move. Jarrett is currently living in Montana, in the US - but says he'll be back in Asia some time in future.
Having achieved more than a 95% vaccine rate for its adult population, Malaysia is eager to recommence International travel. Three overlapping announcements this week paved the way, but left many questions unanswered. On the second edition of our new weekly The SEA Travel News Show, Gary also looks at the top talking points in Indonesia and Myanmar. Plus, Vincent Vichit-Vadakan dials in from Bangkok to discuss the latest on Thailand's reopening and the lessons being learned from the Phuket Sandbox strategy. He also provides some advance information about an exciting South East Asia travel webinar with an all-star cast to be hosted by Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand next week. Plus, we've got some clips from Gary and Hannah's guest appearance on this week's OAG Webinar dedicated to air travel and tourism in South East Asia. We finish with an excerpt from our podcast interview with Langkawi-based travel filmmaker Kamila Delart about how travel film and video content is likely to evolve in the new era.
"I'm trying to get people curious." Travel film and video content is changing, particularly as the pandemic redefines the way we think about the purpose of travel and the meaning of tourism. To get an insider's perspective on where we are heading, Gary chats with award-winning filmmaker Kamila Delart. Based on the Malaysian island of Langkawi for a decade, Kamila has worked with tourism boards and travel companies across South East Asia. She also produces her own short films focusing on slow travel, cultural heritage and nature. In a fascinating chat, the show journeys from shooting inside heritage temples to spotting sea otters on an empty beach and an as-yet-unfulfilled shoot in Papua New Guinea. En route, Kamila discusses her multi-award-winning film, The Egret's Voyage, which was shot along the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, East Malaysia, and honoured at film festivals in Cyprus, New York and Montenegro. She also talks about the ethical and cultural responsibilities that content creators must respect, and the challenges of creating tourism video content for different demographics and markets. Above all, Kamila believes that the future of travel filmmaking will encourage people to slow down and experience destinations with all their senses.