Welcome to our easy-to read analysis of Asia Pacific’s Top 5 Travel Takeaways: Issue #5.
This week’s snapshots feature Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.
Each Monday, we deconstruct 5 key travel and tourism stories you may have missed.
Top 5 Travel Takeaways: Issue #5 is adapted from Issue 72 of Asia Travel Re:Set.
1) Vietnam Gets Ready to Reopen
Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Administration will remove a pandemic-era cap on the number of international flights to/from destinations worldwide on 15 February. This is viewed as a precursor for an announcement that the country opening up for travel and tourism.
Takeaway: As mentioned in Issue 4, Vietnam has been edging towards reopening in recent weeks. Strong lobbying to the government about the economic necessity of reviving travel by influential local airline groups appears to have been successful. While entry rules for foreign visitors are yet to be clarified, local media reported that visa waivers initially could be offered to visitors from 24 countries.
2) Tourist Boost in the Philippines?
“All systems go” according to the Department of Tourism as the Philippines kicked open its airport gates to vaccinated visitors from visa-free countries. Although some restrictions do apply, it is now one of the most ‘open’ countries in South East Asia.
Takeaway: Having long promoted tourism as “More Fun in the Philippines,” the region’s second-largest archipelago has a chance to carve a new niche. While fun-bound promotions are pending as inbound arrivals start to grow, the Philippines is starting off with vaccine tourism. Vaccinated tourists to the island of Boracay “can walk in and have their booster shots.”
3) Anticipation Builds in Australia
A combination of angst and anticipation is co-existing as Australia prepares to open its borders to vaccinated travellers on 21 February. The countdown is on, but Western Australia has decide to opt-out of Australia’s national reopening on COVID-19 concerns.
Takeaway: Described as ‘Fortress Australia’ during the pandemic, Australia’s policy u-turn has been startling. It has a highly vaccinated population, and all states except one are ready to reopen. Concerns exist about the missing Chinese market. Plus, will South East Asian travellers who previously preferred to fly into Perth book longer flights to Sydney or Melbourne?
4) Tourism Fee Trauma in Thailand
In wholly unsurprising news, Thailand is starting to walk back on collecting a new THB300 Tourism Fee from all visitors in April. A delay of at least two months seems inevitable.
Takeaway: Thailand’s economy is hurting badly. Issue 70 of Asia Travel Re:Set,,= Thailand, Tourism & “Contribution to GDP,” noted that the government is moving into tax-revenue raising mode. It is “considering imposing a a flat 15% withholding tax on all cryptocurrency trades,” plus a tax on stock trades. The stated objective of imposing a THB300 Tourism Tax on all visitors from April is being reconsidered given lukewarm arrivals so far in February.
5) Lodging Concerns for Lombok GDP
Two cruise ships are being commissioned to accommodate visitors to the debut Indonesia Moto GP at Lombok’s new Mandalika circuit from 18-20 March.
Takeaway: Mandalika, on the island of Lombok, is one of Indonesia’s 5 Super Priority tourism investment locations, but hotel rooms remain sparse. The debut Indonesian Moto GP will be a sellout, but new resort developments are still taking shape. To meet expected demand, cruise ships and phinisi yachts could be used as offshore hotels during the race weekend.