Bali is preparing to welcome back international tourists for the first time in 19 months. Progress is slow, however, and the situation is complex. At present, no inbound flights are confirmed. So, today's show takes an up-close look at one of South East Asia's most emblematic reopening stories. Gary is joined by Simona Chimenti, Marketing & Media Relations Director of the Bali Hotels Association and General Manager of The Pavilions Bali in Sanur, and Melina Caruso, Technology & Marketing Consultant of the Bali Hotels Association. We discuss the various regulations being put into place for vaccinated tourists, and the current list of 19 countries from which visitors can travel to Bali. We also look at the importance of domestic tourism, and the challenges ahead for hotels, airlines, tour operators and all travel businesses. Will the on-arrival quarantine period be further reduced from its current 5 days, or even removed? How are forward hotel bookings shaping up for Christmas, New Year and Lunar New Year? Will visitor profiles and key source markets change? And what is the current advice for travellers planning a trip to Bali?
With travel starting to return, Gary kicks off a new series called Destination 2022. Each episode will analyse the travel outlook in places that will be hot tickets for South East Asian travellers. We start in South Korea – where the nation’s brilliantly packaged mix of K-pop, K-drama, K-cuisine and K-beauty, plus smart destination video marketing, have kept it top of mind for the region’s youthful travellers. Gary is joined by Dr Jaeyeon Choe in Seoul who teaches Tourism Studies at Swansea University, and is Visiting Professor at the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Hue University, Vietnam. South Korea is nearing a 70% vaccination rate, and unlike in many Asian nations South Korean travellers have been heading overseas, mostly to Europe, all summer. We discuss the outlook for inbound travel, and assess how South Korea is using ‘Soft Power’ to promote itself as a destination, ranging from the popularity of TV shows like Squid Game and megabands BTS and Blackpink to the surging appeal of Korean cuisines and cosmetics. We cover South Korea’s presence at the Dubai World Expo, exciting new destination videos themed around Night Tourism and Korean fashions and the Singapore-South Korea Vaccinated Travel Lane. Jaeyeon also guides us to some hot destinations and trends among domestic travellers. Plus, we ask where South Koreans will be heading for Christmas/New Year and Lunar New Year 2022.
In today's show, Gary recounts the dramatic events of the past 7 days as some governments in South East Asia finally made decisive moves to restart travel. The process was kickstarted by Singapore whose announcement of 9 new Vaccinated Travel Lanes triggered other countries to start playing catch up. Within days, Malaysia and Thailand had accelerated the return of travel - albeit in different ways. Vietnam and Cambodia are racing to keep up, while Bali's now in-process reopening to vaccinated inbound travellers remains shrouded in mystery and confusion. It's becoming clear that competition to attract travellers in South East Asia will become fierce in the lead up to Christmas/New Year and Lunar New Year. Adding to the intrigue, other Asia Pacific destinations - including India, Fiji, New South Wales in Australia, and potentially South Korea and Japan – prepare to welcome back travellers. Bringing things up to date, Gary concludes by saying that more speculation and announcements are expected - but travel is starting to return to the region, perhaps faster than was expected.
The travel trade media has experienced huge disruption during the pandemic. Story angles have been forcibly changed as South East Asia's decade of growth disintegrated and destination borders stayed shut. But what happens next as governments in the region prepare to bring back travel and tourism? This week, Gary chats about the intricacies of COVID-era travel journalism with Bali-based Julia Winterflood. During the pandemic, Julia has been Head Writer of The Bali Beat, and a travel journalist for Travel Weekly Asia, BBC Storyworks and Travelfish. In a broad-ranging discussion, we vicariously journey from Bali and across Indonesia to Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Laos and Cambodia. We ask whether local people's rights and the expectations of travellers and travel industry staff will be listened to in future. And how should the travel media report the industry's responsibility to the environment and the planet's natural resources? The show finishes in Julia's home country, Australia, as we touch on the issue of 'national healing' after the controversies and state schisms it has experienced over the last 18 months.
The international travel media continues to change as blogs, vlogs and social media dominate content consumption. On this week's show, Gary chats with Phnom Penh-based travel writer and editor Simon Ostheimer. Having grown up in Hong Kong, Simon has lived and worked across South East Asia and Greater China over the past two decades. Along the way, he has managed city magazines in Shanghai, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, plus a newspaper in Phuket. He's written travel stories from across the region for heavyweight titles like Conde Nast Traveller, CNN Travel and DestinAsian, and now publishes his own weekly newsletter, Tales of the Orient. In a broad-ranging chat, Simon discusses his childhood in Hong Kong, studying Chinese in Suzhou and watching the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He shares his observations about how travel and lifestyle content changed during the 2010s, a period of dramatic expansion in travel and tourism across South East Asia. He also talks about pandemic life in Cambodia, and how his perspective on travel has shifted over the past 18 months.
Airlines have been severely impacted by South East Asia’s long and ongoing border shutdowns. So what happens next in the aviation sector? On today’s show, Gary and Hannah chat with Singapore-based Mayur “Mac” Patel, who is Regional Sales Director of OAG. In a broad-ranging interview, we discuss the year so far for airlines and airports, and look ahead at the prospects for the final quarter of 2021, and 2022. Will the hoped-for mutual recognition of vaccine certifications actually happen, and will that help rebuild confidence in air travel? We also assess the magnitude of disruption for airline network planners and airport traffic over the past 18 months. What strategy shifts are national carriers and LCCs considering? And how important are domestic networks? Plus, will we see more new airlines taking off across South East Asia and Asia Pacific?
As South East Asia enters the 4th quarter of 2021, Gary and Hannah bash heads together to create a list of 10 top travel learnings from a year that – as yet – hasn’t really got going. Perhaps a rush of travel activity awaits around the corner… but 2021 has taught the travel industry some harsh lessons. So on this week's show, we discuss the following points: 1) 2021 is shaping up to worse than 2020 for tourism businesses; 2) Governments being in control of travel is a disaster; 3) Any ASEAN cooperation is a pipe dream; 4) South East Asian tourism planners are directionless without Chinese tourists; 5) Vaccines have not been the save-all the tourism industry thought they would be; 6) Reopening may come down to 2 models: Thailand's Phuket Sandbox or Singapore's Vaccinated Travel Lane: 7) Pent-up demand is probable, but not guaranteed; 8) Overlooking domestic markets is a long-term mistake: 9) Outbound travel is of little importance to governments; and 10) Media reporting of travel during the pandemic is clickbait driven.
Thailand has grabbed headlines for much of 2021 in South East Asia, but what’s it been like to live and work in a country that appeared COVID-safe, and then was hit very hard by the Delta variant? In the final part of our ‘2021: The Year So Far in ASEAN’ series, Gary and Hannah chat with Vincent Vichit-Vadakan, a freelance writer and editor based in Bangkok. Vincent is also the host of tourism-related seminars for Destination Mekong and the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. We talk about the early year projections for a partial travel recovery, and the COVID concerns that emerged around the time of the Songkran festival. We discuss in depth the protracted development and implementation of the Phuket Sandbox, and the lacklustre results so far. And, what has been the knock-on impact for domestic travel? Plus we look ahead to the still-unconfirmed next phase of Thailand’s reopening, which includes the capital, Bangkok – one of the world’s most visited cities.
Will history record that August 2021 was the month when travel returned to government agendas? It was certainly an eventful month in South East Asia as governments recognised that COVID-19 will be endemic, and that they must plan accordingly. Accelerating vaccination rollouts remains a priority, and a big challenge - especially for countries with large populations, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. This week, Gary and Hannah review the 6 top talking points in travel and tourism during August, and bring each one right up to date. Malaysia saw a government fall and a new Prime Minister installed who announced a pilot reopening for vaccinated domestic travellers in Langkawi. Thailand turned its inbound attentions to Bangkok and updated its Phuket Sandbox statistics. Singapore shifted its focus to Vaccinated Travel Lanes, but is fighting more local infections. In the Philippines, a moratorium on casino tourism investment in Boracay was removed, the flag carrier entered Chapter 11 and confusion surrounds the issuance of digital vaccine certificates. And so to beautiful Bali, where more mixed messaging emerged about its 'will it, won't it' reopening plan.
After successfully managing the pandemic in 2020, the Delta variant has hit Cambodia harder than expected this year. That said, one of the region's most concerted vaccination programmes offers hope for rebuilding both tourism and the economy. In the penultimate edition of our 10-part '2020: The Year So Far in ASEAN' series, Gary and Hannah welcome Jacques Guichandut, Managing Director of All Dreams Cambodia, which is a B2B tour operator based in Phnom Penh. We learn how the removal of international tourism has impacted local travel businesses, and how Jacques pivoted to meet shifting leisure and team-building travel expectations in the domestic market. We assess Cambodia's reopening timeframe, and discuss the opportunities of positioning the nation as a single destination, rather than part of a South East Asia trip itinerary. Plus, what is it like to visit the ancient temple ruins of Angkor Wat with almost no tourists?