Having brought COVID-19 under control, Singapore has provided a clear outline of its Travel Bubble intentions for the coming months. Now in discussions with Hong Kong, Asia's other global aviation hub, Singapore wants to open up more business travel Green Lanes. This week, Gary and Hannah analyse the latest developments in Singapore, discuss green shoots of hope for domestic travel in the Philippines, and the prospects for charter traffic in Lao. Gloomier news in Malaysia and Myanmar, where daily infections are causing renewed concern. Elsewhere, we try to dissect the strategy behind unilateral travel agreements, Thailand's ever-more mystifying Special Tourist Visa and Private Travel Bubbles in Vietnam, Maldives and Bali.
It's 6 months since Bali-based travel publisher and commentator Stuart McDonald joined us on the podcast in April, which seems like a distant era. This week, Gary and Hannah chat with Stuart about the outcome of Bali's reopening to domestic tourists, and its postponed attempt to reboot inbound tourism. Stuart provides some poignant and revealing insights about how the island is coping without mass tourism. We also discuss Thailand's special tourist visa, Singapore's decision to allow Australian and Vietnamese air passengers to return, and we look at what happens next for countries in ASEAN that are stubbornly refusing to open their borders. Is a vaccine the only way to revive the region's devastated tourism industry? All this, plus a soothing soundtrack of surf waves from Stuart's beachside perch.
The Friday Rewind 6: KLIA Transit Troubles, Positive Vibes in Vietnam & Tourist Trash Returns to Sender
In episode 6 of The Friday Rewind, Gary and Hannah zip through this week's top talking points in South East Asian travel - in just 15 minutes. Today’s topics are:
- HKIA Bans KLIA Flights After Transit Passengers Test Positive
- Yogyakarta Pleas for Tourists, Not Financial Aid
- International Flight Finally Departs Vietnam... With More to Come In & Out?
- Regional ‘Travel Bubbles’ in The Philippines
- Tour Agency Sparks Online Fury by Mis-locating Angkor Wat
Khao Yai National Park Mails Back Tourist Trash
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?