2020 Travel Podcasts: The Year That Changed Travel Forever

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Here are our favourite 2020 travel podcasts that helped us to chart the pandemic year…

The South East Asia Travel Show podcast was launched in December 2019. Both Hannah Pearson and I were convinced that in 2020 ASEAN would cement its status as the world’s most dynamic region for travel and tourism.

We all know what happened next, but neither of us were sure at first how to drive the COVID-era narrative on the podcast.

It soon became clear that the pandemic would be a long, highly destructive interruption. But travel and tourism had proved resilient in the past and optimism across the industry remained strong. We ploughed ahead, and created new angles for discussion.

As the year developed, the show began to find its voice, and we discussed critical travel and tourism issues in South East Asia, Asia Pacific – and beyond.

1) COVID-19 Wreaks Travel Havoc Across Asia

On 12 February, the world was coming to terms with the coronavirus. Renamed COVID-19, its worrying spread across Asia was already hitting travel hard.

In this episode, we sifted through the economic wreckage in South East Asia, and assessed the latest statistics and postponements of travel trade shows. We analysed AirAsia’s troubles and sought a glimmer of light in the 2nd Asia Destination Film Awards – which showcased the visual creativity of video marketers in the region.

Listen to the podcast HERE

2) After 4 Months of COVID-19, Where Does Travel Go From Here?

By 29 April, COVID-19 was savaging the entire travel chain, and forecasts were increasingly dark and disconcerting. While some countries were tentatively emerging from lockdown restrictions, entire economies were under immense pressure. Domestic travel provided a first step towards recovery, but monumental challenges existed for regional and international travel.

This podcast assessed the mission-critical issue for travel brands and travellers, and the devastating impact on small communities in South East Asia that grew to rely on tourism.

Listen to the podcast HERE

3) What is the Future for Chinese Tourism in South East Asia?

The return of Chinese travellers was (and remains) global travel’s hottest topic. More than 30 million Chinese travellers visited South East Asia in 2019, and destinations are desperate for their spending power to return. With China determined not to reimport the virus at any cost, several overlapping factors needed addressing before it would reopen its airspace.

This podcast on 13 May broke down the topic into 5 key areas: Trends in Chinese domestic travel, China’s government influence on travel, The major airlines, Chinese consumer spending and South East Asian tourism board marketing strategies.

Listen to the podcast HERE

4) Bubbles, Bailouts & Bloated Fares: SEA Airlines Are in a Mess

By 18 June, South East Asian airlines, aviation and – by extension – airports were in crisis. The summer was plagued by bailouts, air bubbles that failed to materialise and governments hinting at, then delaying, the lifting of border closures. Varied travel and quarantine rules were in place within states, let alone between them. Meanwhile airfares were rising and flight cancellations frequent.

With governments dithering and ASEAN providing little guidance, we attempted to unpick the key issues and analyse a pathway forward for South East Asia’s state carriers and LCCs.

Listen to the podcast HERE

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5) Bali’s Reopening Postponed: What Next for Tourism in Indonesia & South East Asia?

Since June, Bali had been anticipating its vaunted reopening to international visitors on 11 September. It didn’t happen. The Indonesian government kicked the idea into 2021 as it battled to contain the virus across the archipelago, including Bali. This dealt a huge financial and psychological blow to the Island of the Gods, whose economy is geared towards tourism. Destinations throughout South East Asia had also viewed Bali as a vital – but doomed – test case.

On 26 August, we discussed the national, regional and global factors that conspired against Bali’s inbound tourism revival. We also examined the potential consequences for the tourism sector in Indonesia and elsewhere in South East Asia.

Listen to the podcast HERE

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

The Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble was scheduled to kick off on Sunday 22 November. By 19 November, governments across Asia were implementing tougher restrictions to contain a volatile COVID-19 winter wave. At the same time, the travel-starved travel industry was desperately searching for alternative options to revive aviation and tourism.

In this edition (recorded one day before the Hong-Singapore bubble burst), we scanned Asia Pacific for signs of travel bubble activity, and reported the latest from Australia and New Zealand, where hopes for a two-way Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble in 2020 were receding.

Listen to the podcast HERE

7) Welcome to the Age of Vaccine Travelnomics

Among all our 2020 travel podcasts, this was probably the point when the industry was at its lowest ebb. By the final month of 2020, more than 200 COVID-19 vaccines were undergoing clinical trials or development worldwide. With the first vaccines approved in the UK and Russia, the complex era of Vaccine Travel was ready to unfold. Already Qantas had said it would require passengers to be vaccinated before flying. Meanwhile, citizens in most countries remained unsure which vaccines their governments were purchasing.

On 3 December, we dived into uncharted water to analyse the procurement situation in South East Asia and Asia Pacific, and looked ahead to 2021, the Year of Vaccine Travelnomics.

Listen to the podcast HERE

8) 2020: Looking Back On The Year That Changed Travel Forever

To round-out 12 months that no-one will ever forget, we reviewed the standout issues that defined 2020. Key topics in our 17 December edition included the role of domestic tourism, problems with travel bubbles, the absence of Chinese travellers, the future of airlines and cruising and shifts in entry visa policies.

Of course, we took time to navigate the minefield that is PCR and antigen testing, quarantines and vaccine passports – and asked “When can we expect international travel to return to a sustainable level?”

Listen to the podcast HERE

If you enjoyed this selection of 2020 travel podcasts, find out more about our back catalogue and listen to The South East Asia Travel Show HERE

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