Travel and Tourism Update: July 2, 2019

Travel and Tourism Update | July 2 , 2019
Authors: Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Jordan Fox, Steven Gunawan, Shay Wester
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

July 24, 2019: Travel and Tourism Committee Call 

September 3-6, 2019: ASEAN MRA-TP Best Practices Seminar, Makassar, Indonesia (TBC)

October 7-8, 2019: ASEAN Tourism Committees Meetings, Boracay, Philippines

January 12-16, 2020: 23rd ASEAN Tourism Ministerial Meetings and Association Meetings, Empire Hotel & Country Club, Brunei Darussalam

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris
The environmental damage caused by increased tourist activity has caused many ASEAN nations to look for sustainable solutions like the June 22nd adoption of the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris of the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Marine Debris. The priority areas include: policy support and planning; research, innovation, and capacity building; public awareness, education, and outreach; and private sector engagement.

Policy Support and Planning:
This will consist of spreading information to create regional dialogue and policies that aim to reduce marine debris from both land and sea-based activities. It will also encourage member states to implement agreements like MARPOL Annex V ship generated waste, Basel Convention, and UN Environment Assembly resolutions 3/7 on Marine Littler and Microplastics. Other suggested activities include:

  • Creating waste management systems aimed at preventing pollution
  • Extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies to incorporate environmental costs into the market price and take-back programs for reusing and recycling
  • Encouraging sustainable products in the private sector
  • Developing upstream policies for land and sea-based leakages.
  • Establishing a taskforce that will develop a regional action plan to help with the above activities as well as reviewing the best practices of Regional Seas Programs
  • Studying the feasibility of these agreement through ASEAN, and contributing to EAS efforts to develop a regional plan of action.

Research, Innovation, and Capacity Building:
 This involves compiling an ASEAN data baseline on the status and impact of marine debris; standardizing measurement methods; sharing research, technology, and innovations to all stakeholders; and providing training to member states on combating the issue

Public Awareness, Education, and Outreach:
 The third framework looks to enhance public awareness of marine debris and engage multi-stakeholders to promote behavior changes.

Private Sector Engagement:
 The final framework hopes to support the private sector in implementing measures to solve marine debris including encouraging investment and contribution to the issue. They plan to encourage practices like circular economy, product life-cycle management, sustainable consumption and production, “3R” approaches, environmentally friendly package design, and waste recovery and recycling programs.
This declaration came from concern over environmental impact of rapid development often due to tourism. Places like Bali are leading the charge with initiatives between the Bali Partnership and Norway to reducing ocean plastics 70% by 2025. Following a five-month study they found only 48% of Bali’s trash was being properly recycled or disposed of and the main culprits were tourists. In the past, areas like Thailand’s Maya Bay and the Philippines’ Boracay Beach Resort have instituted tourist bans to save coral reefs and further damage, but the ASEAN region is looking for more sustainable tourism solutions that capitalize on economic gains while taking the environment into account.

A copy of the full text of the Declaration is available here.

Thailand considering tourist tax for foreign visitors

Thailand is considering a tourist tax that would cover insurance for visitors who get injured or fall sick and improve the local attractions. While they are currently undertaking a six-month study with the Naresuan University and the Office of the Insurance Commission to flesh out the potential impact of the tax including possible revenue, previous environmental impacts, and where the tax would be applied, final decisions will not be made until the ministry holds a series of brainstorming sessions with all tourism stakeholders set to take place following the study’s completion. The exact tax and collection method will not be laid out until the survey is complete, but some are speculating that it will be a 100 baht (approximately $3) fee paid by all tourists entering the country. The collection process will prove difficult considering different methods of arrival. There has also been talk of taxing selected areas which is hard to enforce and would result in less money gathered overall.

Within the funds collected, a portion of the Thailand tax would be used for infrastructure and would go towards projects like yacht ports for those traveling by sea from Europe. Another portion would contribute to protecting the land, so it is sustainable long term, and the remaining portion would provide insurance coverage for all visitors. This would reduce tourist medical expenses to the state, which on average total 300 million baht ($9,564,000) each year. They also hope to combat the bad publicity stemming from horror stories of tourists being badly injured in Thailand who seek help paying medical bills online.

Given the increasing popularity of Thailand as a tourist destination, they are hoping to follow the lead of Japan, Malaysia, the US, and many others, who implemented similar taxes. The United States tax, implemented in 2009, instituted a fee of $10 to use the Electronic System for Travel Authorization and later extended the bill to allow Secretary of Homeland Security to do the same. The funds they collected went towards tourism marketing.

While this is not the first time a tourism tax has been considered (taxes were proposed in 2013 and 2016 but didn’t materialize due to fears of declining tourist numbers), Thailand has established itself as a prominent destination and tourists are more likely to be turned away by inadequate facilities and safety concerns than the tax. The 2013 tax proposed a 500-baht tax (approximately $16) on all arrivals to the Thailand airport, but at that time political unrest and confusion were causing lower tourist numbers, and in 2016 they proposed a $10 charge.

Vietnam airlines get green light to fly US direct

Vietnam’s travel industry gets a boost as Vietnamese airlines begin direct flights to the United States after receiving a “Category 1” rating from the US Federal Aviation Administration. This rating, which recognizes the personnel licensing, airworthiness, and operations of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, will allow three Vietnamese airlines to begin direct flights to the United States this year. These new flights by Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet, and Bamboo Airways will cut travel time by eight hours.

An increase in travel from Vietnam’s growing middle class will also drive more travel between the US and Vietnam. An increase in disposable income has already led to more outbound travel by the Vietnamese mostly to other ASEAN countries like Cambodia and Thailand. The US trips to Vietnam have also increased 12 percent from 2017 leading to more connections between the two countries.

Bamboo Airways expects the first direct US flight will begin in late 2020 or early 2021 and has already ordered 20 Boeing Co 787s in a set of aviation deals with Vietjet, Boeing, and GE worth US$20.9 billion. These new planes will also fuel the rapid growth that already exists in the Vietnamese travel industry.

Much of this stemmed from a late April workshop in Ho Chi Minh City that included more than 80 public and private sector representatives from both the US and Vietnam. This cooperation worked to further develop connections between the two aviation sectors as well as key airport infrastructure in Vietnam. The council supports the strengthening of ties between the United States and Vietnam and views this as an opportunity for more public private sector cooperation as well as economic gains for many sectors.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Making ASEAN travel accessible
Strong baht could drive tourists from Thailand to neighbouring countries
WTTC study finds low level of future tourism growth readiness among SE Asian cities
ITB Asia returns with its highest ever number of participating National Tourism Organisations (NTOs)

Brunei
Workshop focusses on community-based tourism opportunities 

Cambodia
Region’s tourism ministers vow to boost cooperation
Cambodia urges tourism training on par with Asean
Travel agencies warned against assigning star ratings to hotels
LYP to open water park in capital
Tourism board mulling fresh tourism strategy
Tourism Ministry sets sights on Muslim world
Cambodia and Thailand discuss railway transport
Citilink launches Jakarta-Phnom Penh route
Railway station set for renovation

Indonesia
UNWTO and Indonesia Tourism Ministry to promote culinary tourism jointly
Indonesia's tourist haven Bali aims to blaze global trail on stemming ocean plastic
Indonesia Wants Neither Grab, Nor Go-Jek to Win
No plan by foreign airline to ply Indonesian domestic routes: Top aviation official after president's proposal
Indonesia Mulls Allowing Foreign Carriers To Fly Domestically
Eight new destinations to be developed through KEK scheme: Official
Govt told to learn from shipping industry before introducing open skies policy
Gov't Asked to Formulate Online Transportation Bill
North Sulawesi adopts 3A strategy for tourism promotion
Indonesia, Philippines can Jointly Take Tourism Advantage: Kadin
Ministry employs 4 strategies amid tough year in tourism
Gov't Mulls Over Limiting Vehicles Entering Trans Java Toll
+ Indonesia promoting Malay culture, history as tourism draw

Laos
Laos to upgrade facilities to draw more overseas tourists
Laos To Launch Online eVisa Service in July
Five Tourist Attractions To Be Upgraded, Developed In Each Province

Malaysia
Ethnic groups must help the govt to develop national tourism
Promote tourism, MRCA tells govt
Malaysian spa, travel agency associations partner to grow wellness tourism
Tourism bodies sign MoU on wellness tourism
Malaysians should be country's tourism ambassadors
Tourism Industry sees 16.9pct growth in first quarter
Malaysia among top 10 wellness tourism markets in Asia Pacific
AirAsia to expand beyond airlines business
Tough terrain for Malaysia's tourism industry

Myanmar
Ministry reminds tourism operators to transact in kyat
Myanmar airline rated 7-star for safety
Myanmar tackles zero-dollar trap
Kayah govt welcomes stakeholders at community tourism conference
Tourism Ministry Orders Industry Dedollarization
Two tourism zones to be set up in Mandalay
Govt relaxes visa restrictions for Europe, urged to regulate ‘zero-dollar tours’

Philippines
DOT: ‘Keep tourism in check’
Positioning the Philippines as global diving destination
Philippines to bid for hosting rights to world tourism conference in 2021
Mimaropa arrivals rising only 10% despite tourism ‘jewels’

Singapore
STB opens call for entries for Singapore Tourism Accelerator
Integrated Resorts to invest S$9 billion in new world-class attractions and experiences
STB and NAFA Cook Up Partnership to Welcome The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 to Singapore

Thailand
Declining tourist numbers put pressure on THAI
US remains top source of Thailand's hotel guests
TAT targets Eastern European market in bid to boost yacht tourism
Tourism-growth projected at 4.65%
AoT awaits approval for B200bn expansion
Thailand's $13 Billion Plan Could Woo 65 Million Tourists Yearly
Transport Co expects new rental bus delivery next year
Tourism ministry, NSTDA mull way to cap visitor numbers
Thailand ready to tap busy Muslim travel market

Vietnam
Vietnam’s liberalization efforts lead to booming tourism industry
Vietnam's tourism sector must focus on infrastructure, regulatory changes
Tourism development should not harm environment: tourism minister
Minister says rules for condotels, officetels coming this year
Vietnam should promote tourism in Chinese market: Tourism Minister
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Making ASEAN travel accessible TTR Weekly 26th Jun 2019
ASEAN’s tourism objectives filtered through during last week’s high powered ASEAN summit in Bangkok with a call for renewed commitment to pursue sustainable, inclusive and balanced tourism development. That was the key takeaway as far as tourism was concerned according to comments made by the ASEAN Tourism Association president, Mingkwan Metmowlee, in an interview with Thailand Today last weekend.

Strong baht could drive tourists from Thailand to neighbouring countries TTG Asia 19th Jun 2019
As travel to Thailand becomes more expensive due to an appreciating Thai baht, tourism traffic could shift to neighbouring countries, according to operators in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. “The Thai baht peaked within the last four months and is now contributing to higher costs and expenses. International visitors will avoid visiting Thailand and look to other destinations instead,” said Luang Prabang- and Bangkok-based Padej Jantarasorn, executive marketing consultant and regional sales representative for Villa Santi and Santi Resort & Spa in the Laotian city, speaking to TTG Asia at the recent TTM+ in Pattaya. Compared to the last three or four months, the average total cost of travel for Europeans visiting Vietnam (including flights, hotels, meals, activities, etc) costs five to 10 per cent less than to Thailand. Cost of travel to Seam Reap in Cambodia and Luang Prabang in Laos seem relatively unchanged but prices for both destinations become more attractive as travelling expenses in Thailand go up.

WTTC study finds low level of future tourism growth readiness among SE Asian cities TTG Asia 14th Jun 2019
The majority of South-east Asian cities in a new study on future tourism growth readiness were recommended to evolve tourism policy and improve infrastructure. The global index report from WTTC and JLL assessed the preparedness of 50 cities for future travel and tourism growth, and placed them in one of five typologies, namely Dawning Developers, Emerging Performers, Balanced Dynamics, Mature Performers and Managing Momentum. Five of the six South-east Asian cities the study looked at were classified under Emerging Performers and Dawning Developers. According to WTTC and JLL, cities in these categories tend to be in emerging countries, with a lower level of urban readiness.

ITB Asia returns with its highest ever number of participating National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) Yahoo Finance 10th Jun 2019
ITB Asia, Asia's leading trade show, is back and with four months to go before it opens its doors on 16 October 2019, it is already attracting unprecedented exhibition demand from National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) and Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs). With a total of 58 NTOs and RTOs, this represents a year-on-year growth of 23.8% and 25% respectively in the securing of exhibition space compared to 2018. This surpasses previous levels set for ITB Asia by this stage in the year.

Brunei

Workshop focusses on community-based tourism opportunities  Borneo Bulletin Online 25th Jun 2019
The Tourism Development Department in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) through the Mukim and Village Consultative Council Division held a Community-Based Tourism workshop yesterday. According to a press release, the workshop is expected to provide encouragement to community-based tourism operators to strive to achieve ASEAN-level recognition, meet ASEAN standards and qualify themselves to be nominated for the prestigious ASEAN Community Based Tourism Award, which is a platform for wider recognition and publicity at a regional level.

Cambodia

Region’s tourism ministers vow to boost cooperation Khmer Times 19th Jun 2019
The tourism ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam last week agreed to boost cooperation, particularly in religious and food tourism. The officials met at the Fourth ACMECS Meeting of Tourism Ministers and the Fifth CLMV Meeting of Tourism Ministers, both held in Chiang Mai province, Thailand. Thong Khon, the Cambodian Tourism Minister, said cooperation must focus on religious and food tourism. At last week’s gatherings, the tourism ministers agreed to create action plans on tourism cooperation covering the years 2019-2023 which will focus on connections among routes and corridors, as well as marketing activities and sustainable tourism.

Cambodia urges tourism training on par with Asean Phnom Penh Post 18th Jun 2019
Cambodia is calling for the establishment of tourism institutes and universities to provide relevant skills in compliance with an Asean curriculum, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said. He presented the Kingdom’s plan to develop tourism skills by establishing a National Tourism Institute, a Tourism University, a Tourism Vocational Training School and other vocational training programmes, using Asean curriculums on-site. The forum saw attendees from the private sector, tour operators, professors of tourism schools, education and training institutions, and relevant partners from several countries in Asean and South Asia – such as Brunei, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, as well as the US.

Travel agencies warned against assigning star ratings to hotels Phnom Penh Post 18th Jun 2019
The Ministry of Tourism has warned international online travel agencies against rating Cambodian hotels prior to the former’s evaluation. In a statement issued last week, the ministry noted that some hotels have been rated by the online travel agencies – including TripAdvisor, Agoda, Booking.com and Expedia – without the hotels having been evaluated by the ministry itself. Ministry spokesman Top Sopheak said hotel ratings must be made by the Ministry of Tourism’s expert committees at both the national and sub-national levels.

LYP to open water park in capital Tourism of Cambodia 13th Jun 2019
The development, known as Angkor Water Park, will be located in Chroy Changvar district, in Phnom Penh’s Northeast, and will cost an estimated $55 million, according to a company press release last week. LYP Group, owned by tycoon Ly Yong Phat, announced last year plans to invest in the water park. According to last week’s announcement, the water park will be built on 6 hectares of land near Safari World Zoo, another investment by LYP Group that opened in March 2018.

Tourism board mulling fresh tourism strategy Tourism of Cambodia 10th Jun 2019
Cambodia Tourism Marketing and Promotion Board, a joint institution between the government and the private sector, is studying a new strategy to attract more foreign visitors to the Kingdom, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said. He said visa exemption for international tourists is one of the proposals that would be submitted to the government as a key point in increasing the Kingdom’s attractiveness. The main points discussed during the meeting included increasing Cambodia’s tourism promotion in the international market, expanding direct flights to India, and connecting flights to transport tourists on cruises from Preah Sihanouk to Siem Reap provinces.

Tourism Ministry sets sights on Muslim world Tourism of Cambodia 10th Jun 2019
The Ministry of Tourism is targeting visitors from countries in the Middle East, a region believed to have great potential for Cambodia’s tourism market. The ministry said it is promoting Cambodia in the Middle East to increase the number of tourists and investors from the region.

Cambodia and Thailand discuss railway transport Tourism of Cambodia 10th Jun 2019
Cambodia and Thailand have recently begun negotiations on the cross border transportation of people and goods after their railways where connected in April. The countries still need to negotiate the procedures for carrying out customs checks at the border.

Citilink launches Jakarta-Phnom Penh route Tourism of Cambodia 10th Jun 2019
A direct flight from Jakarta to Phnom Penh will be available starting mid-June, low-cost carrier Citilink Indonesia and the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism announced on Saturday. During the launch of its latest regional route, Citilink Indonesia president director Juliandra Nurtjahjo said this announcement reflects the company’s commitment to expand its international flight networks and to support the Indonesian government’s goals to increase the number of inbound foreign tourists. They plan to later expand flights to Siem Reap and Sihanoukville and eventually places like Bali.

Railway station set for renovation Tourism of Cambodia 6th Jun 2019
A group of European and US investors will spend $5 million to renovate Phnom Penh’s Royal Railway Station and turn it into a modern entertainment centre and hangout spot. According to a press release issued yesterday, the Mall Group seeks to turn the railway into ‘Royal Train Square’, a 3,000 square metre retail and commercial space. The centre will include shops, cafes, restaurants, and banks as well as office and exhibition space.

Indonesia

UNWTO and Indonesia Tourism Ministry to promote culinary tourism jointly TornosNews.GR 26th Jun 2019
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) together with the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia have announced the launch of the UNWTO Gastronomy Tourism Product Development Project. With the aim of advancing the contribution of tourism to economic growth, job creation and cultural preservation, UNWTO is to offer its support to the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia as it develops gastronomy tourism in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. The project will help Ubud design and develop innovative gastronomy tourism experiences that link the public and private sectors. The joint initiative will also help to better connect the various parts of the value chain and highlight the destination’s tourism attractions and products. This project will be developed with the aim of advancing tourism’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially to SDG 1 (End Poverty), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and SDG 12 (Responsible Production and Consumption) through job creation, the empowerment of women, and the reduction of poverty and inequality.

Indonesia's tourist haven Bali aims to blaze global trail on stemming ocean plastic The Straits Times 20th Jun 2019
Less than half of the garbage produced on Indonesia's resort island of Bali is recycled, with thousands of tonnes burned or dumped in rivers and the ocean, researchers warned on Thursday (June 20). Only 48 per cent of Bali's trash is managed responsibly through recycling or landfill, according to a five-month study by The Bali Partnership - the first step for the group's ambitious goal to end plastic pollution on the island and spur action beyond. The Bali Partnership, backed by Norway, is a new organisation uniting Indonesia's central and local governments, academics, waste experts and businesses, to support a national commitment to reduce ocean plastics by 70 per cent by 2025.

Indonesia Wants Neither Grab, Nor Go-Jek to Win Jakarta Globe 13th Jun 2019
The government's plan to ban discounts and promotional fares by online-based motorcycle taxis is based on a long-term view: preventing consumers from ending up at the mercy of monopolistic corporations. The industry is currently dominated by homegrown ride-hailing service Go-Jek and Singapore-based Grab, which are both burning cash at an eyewatering rate to become the one and only super-app for Indonesians. 

No plan by foreign airline to ply Indonesian domestic routes: Top aviation official after president's proposal CNA 11th Jun 2019
No foreign airline is planning to operate domestic routes in Indonesia, said Air Transportation Director-General Polana Pramesti according to a report by news site Tempo. This came after President Joko Widodo’s proposal to allow foreign airlines to operate Indonesian domestic routes with the aim of bringing down ticket prices sparked a robust debateamong stakeholders. “There is none (that are planning to operate in Indonesia) because of strict requirements,” said Mr Polana during an interview last Saturday (Jun 8). He was responding to questions on the operation of international airlines such as Jetstar and Scoot. Citing the relevant law and presidential decree, the director-general explained that any airline wanting to operate in Indonesia should set up a domestic business entity, with the majority shareholder – holding a minimum of 51 per cent shares – being Indonesian. The airline must also operate 10 aircraft for scheduled transportation. “They should possess five aircraft and the rest must be aircraft leases,” he said.

Indonesia Mulls Allowing Foreign Carriers To Fly Domestically Aviation International News 6th Jun 2019
In an urgent bid to boost competitiveness and push down airfares, the Indonesian government is considering a new aviation policy that will allow foreign carriers to serve domestic routes across the sprawling archipelago. The proposal, submitted by newly re-elected President Joko Widodo, marks the latest in a string of state measures aimed at boosting competition, including changes to airfare floors and ceilings.

Eight new destinations to be developed through KEK scheme: Official The Jakarta Post 27th Jun 2019
The government plans to develop 12 special economic zones (KEKs) this year that include tourist destinations. The Tourism Ministry's head of development acceleration for priority tourist destinations, Hiramsyah S. Thaib, said the ministry expected eight KEK destinations to be approved by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo this year. He said the President would decide on whether Tanjung Gunung and Sungai Liat in Bangka Belitung and Singosari in East Java would be three of the destinations.

Govt told to learn from shipping industry before introducing open skies policy The Jakarta Post 23rd Jun 2019
The government has been advised to learn from mistakes made in the shipping industry before implementing its plan to introduce an open skies policy in its effort to lower airfares in domestic services. An aviation business analyst from the Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI), Suharto Abdul Majid, said foreign companies used to dominate domestic shipping services as they were once allowed to operate within the sector.

Gov't Asked to Formulate Online Transportation Bill Tempo 22nd Jun 2019
The Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI) requested the government to draft a special regulation regarding application-based transportation or online transportation. The association's secretary-general Harya S. Dillon, commented that the existing Transportation Law No. 22 of 2009 on Traffic and Land Transportion is too general to manage public transportation.

North Sulawesi adopts 3A strategy for tourism promotion Antara News 21st Jun 2019
The North Sulawesi provincial government has made steady efforts to develop the tourism sector viewed as having the potential to boost the region's economic growth through applying the 3A strategy of attractions, accessibility, and amenities. "We prioritize the 3A strategy to attract more tourists to visit North Sulawesi," North Sulawesi Provincial Secretary Edwin Silangen remarked in Manado on Friday.

Indonesia, Philippines can Jointly Take Tourism Advantage: Kadin Tempo 19th Jun 2019
The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) has stated that Indonesia and the Philippines can take advantage of vast opportunities in the tourism sector by working together to offer tourism packages for both countries. "Actually, both countries want to promote their tourism, and of course they want to attract more tourists. Maybe cooperation can be carried out through offering tourism packages," said Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Deputy Chairperson for International Relations Shinta Widjaja Kamdani in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Ministry employs 4 strategies amid tough year in tourism The Jakarta Post 17th Jun 2019
Indonesia faces a tough year in tourism, as growth in foreign arrivals dropped to the lowest rate in years in the first four months of the year. The Tourism Ministry is pursuing four main strategies in a bid to increase the number of tourists coming to the country in the remainder of the year, namely promoting border tourism, making special offers, developing tourist hubs and establishing low-cost carrier terminals (LCCT).

Gov't Mulls Over Limiting Vehicles Entering Trans Java Toll Tempo 10th Jun 2019
Transportation Ministry prepared a plan to limit the number of vehicles entering Trans Java toll road heading to Jakarta should the traffic congestion hard to ease. The plan was taken into consideration because of heavy traffic from the east toward the west or Jakarta that might cause an endless queue of vehicles and severe congestion. “If the condition is not clear yet, [we] possibly block the upstream...” said the ministry’s head of research and development agency, Sugihardjo, in the National Coordinating Post for Integrated 2019 Eid Transportation, Sunday, June 9.

Indonesia promoting Malay culture, history as tourism draw Bernama.com 19th Jun 2019
Indonesia is promoting Malay culture and history, especially of Sumatra, as among its tourism products to boost the industry. Its Tourism Ministry's director of promotions for Malaysia and Brunei, Adella Raung said the effort could attract more tourists to the republic, particularly from the Malay lands like Malaysia and Brunei.

Laos

Laos to upgrade facilities to draw more overseas tourists Phnom Penh Post 18th Jun 2019
The Lao government is committed to developing and improving five tourism sites in each province along with road access and other facilities over the coming year, in a bid to attract more tourists. This was the message from the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara when speaking at the opening of the National Assembly session on Wednesday.The minister said the government will encourage the private sector to help develop infrastructure, facilities and other services to accommodate the growth of tourism. Bosengkham highlighted the significance of the recent information campaign to promote Laos and its colourful attractions to the rest of the world.

Laos To Launch Online eVisa Service in July Laotian Times 25th Jun 2019
Laos will begin offering electronic tourist visa (eVisa) applications in July this year, allowing visitors to apply for a visa online prior to arriving in the country. The official website for the e-visa application process is https://laoevisa.gov.la . The eVisa website will be jointly managed by the Lao Consular Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Public Security. Tourist visas valid for 30 days will be the first types of visas offered by the site, with other types of visas to be added at a later date.

Five Tourist Attractions To Be Upgraded, Developed In Each Province KPL - Lao News Agency 13th Jun 2019
The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara told the ongoing 7th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly’s 8th legislature last Friday that his ministry has an ambitious plan to improve and develop five main tourist sites in each province nationwide. The efforts will include upgrading existing tourist sites and developing new ones.

Malaysia

Ethnic groups must help the govt to develop national tourism Bernama.com 26th Jun 2019
Every race or ethnic group in the country should help the government to realise the development of the tourism sector, said the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi. He said every ethnic group could promote national tourism by highlighting the uniqueness of their respective art and culture. “For example, we at the ministry welcome the organisation of any cultural event or activity that could introduce the uniqueness of the respective ethnic culture. “All races could cooperate by sitting down together to discuss, exchange ideas and look for the uniqueness of the races to be highlighted as a tourism product,” he said.

Promote tourism, MRCA tells govt MSN 26th Jun 2019
Retailers have appealed to the government to focus more on drawing in tourists to provide a spending-spree boost. Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) president Datuk Seri Garry Chua (pic) said tourism played a crucial role in reviving the nation’s economy. “This is because spendings by tourists not only trickle down to the retail market, it also has an effect on other sectors such as transportation, entertainment, food and health. “The moment they arrive, they will spend on all these things. We definitely have a lot to offer tourists. “I urge the Federal Government to spend more money and give more focus on the tourism sector,” he said.

Malaysian spa, travel agency associations partner to grow wellness tourism TTG Asia 19th Jun 2019
The Association of Malaysian Spas (AMSPA) has partnered The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) in a joint effort to grow wellness tourism in Malaysia. The two associations signed an MoU encapsulating arrangements that relate to promotional programmes and activities leading up to Visit Malaysia 2020 and beyond, exchange of information, cooperation in capacity building, as well as product development in the area of wellness tourism.

Tourism bodies sign MoU on wellness tourism www.thesundaily.my 18th Jun 2019
The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) and the Association of Malaysian Spas (Amspa) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to put Malaysia’s wellness tourism on par with popular wellness destinations globally. During the ceremony Matta president, Datuk Tan Kok Liang said that the MoU encompasses arrangements related to promotional programmes and activities leading towards Visit Malaysia 2020 and will result in the exchange of information, cooperation in capacity building as well as development in the area of ‘wellness tourism’.

Malaysians should be country's tourism ambassadors Bernama.com 18th Jun 2019
Malaysians should be the country’s tourism ambassadors and to work together to realise the mission of Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) by promoting the country to the international community, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. She said Malaysians should give their full support to ensure success of the national mission, which is to record 30 million foreign tourist arrivals and RM100 billion in revenue to the country. “The easiest way is to highlight our noble hospitality. When foreigners fall in love with our Eastern values, they will want to learn more about our national heritage and arts,” she said when opening the Malaysia Aidilfitri Open House here today. Dr Wan Azizah said she is confident and optimistic that the government’s target of recording 30 million tourist arrivals for VM2020 could be achieved if all Malaysians are to unite and become Malaysia’s tourism ambassadors.

Tourism Industry sees 16.9pct growth in first quarter New Straits Times 18th Jun 2019
Malaysia’s tourism industry has seen a promising start this year with growth in the first quarter, registering an increase of 16.9 per cent for tourist expenditure to reach RM21.4 billion compared with RM18.3 billion last year. The highest per capita expenditure came from Saudi Arabia at RM11,069 followed by the United Kingdom (RM5,212), India (RM4,712.6), and the United States (RM4,506.2).

Malaysia among top 10 wellness tourism markets in Asia Pacific New Straits Times 17th Jun 2019
Malaysia is listed in the top 10 wellness tourism markets in Asia Pacific with a growing trend in the future, said the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang. “Wellness tourism is the fastest growing travel sector globally and Malaysia is listed in the top 10 wellness tourism markets in Asia Pacific with expenditures standing at RM20.5 billion and 8.3 million trips with a growing trend for wellness vacations and packages especially to our country,” he said. To further promote the sector, Matta and the Association of Malaysian Spas (Amspa) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) today to strengthen wellness tourism.

AirAsia to expand beyond airlines business New Straits Times 7th Jun 2019
AirAsia Group Bhd is looking to expand beyond the traditional airline business, and has been building up its travel and lifestyle website and app, financial services and logistics operations. AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the low-cost carrier (LCC) had been approached by foreign companies interested to partner with the airline and leverage on its huge database of about 100 million passengers annually. “We are trying to move away from just being an airline, and to start using our traffic to build our platform. We probably have one of the biggest websites in Malaysia if not Asean,” he told New Straits Times during his recent visit to Balai Berita.

Tough terrain for Malaysia's tourism industry The Edge Markets 6th Jun 2019
This article first appeared as 'Tough terrain for tourism' in the May 27, 209, 2019 issue of The Edge Malaysia. In 2016, an Indian national’s 8 days/7 nights holiday to Malaysia with his wife, parents and a child through klia2 would have cost him RM250 in passenger service charge (PSC). Today, the same holiday would cost the five-member family from India RM505. And from Sept 1, the various levies imposed could set them back by RM755 — equivalent to the cost of a flight ticket from India. This is the result of a slew of tourism-related charges and levies imposed since September 2017 and a departure levy scheduled to commence in September this year (see Table 1).

Myanmar

Ministry reminds tourism operators to transact in kyat The Myanmar Times 18th Jun 2019
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MOHT) has issued a reminder to the airline and tourism industry to transact in the local Myanmar currency and apply for a local money changer license. “The Central Bank will cooperate with the industry to avoid difficulties arising in the process of applying for the license, said Daw Khin Than Win, Deputy Director General of the MOHT. U Phyo Wai, a local tour operator, commented that there should be more flexibility in the use of foreign exchange to transact, saying that tourists prefer to use dollars or other currencies over the Myanmar kyat to transact.

Myanmar airline rated 7-star for safety The Myanmar Times 18th Jun 2019
Myanmar Airways International (MAI) has been awarded 7-star safety rating from AirlineRatings.com, the only safety and product rating agency in the world. MAI is the first and only recipient of the IATA Operational Safety Audit Program (IOSA) in Myanmar and has been able to maintain a 100 percent safety record since it was awarded the air operator’s certificate in 1993. AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas congratulated MAI (IATA code 8M) on this achievement. “MAI has been a major part of the economic life of Myanmar,” said Thomas. “This is an excellent outcome and will help promote tourism to Myanmar.”

Myanmar tackles zero-dollar trap TTR Weekly 14th Jun 2019
So-called zero-dollar tourism is starting to upset the travel industry in Myanmar. While local tour operators and to some extent hotel owners welcome the increase in Chinese tour groups they wonder why the financial benefits slip through their fingers. Myanmar Times in a report, earlier this week, claims Chinese nationals are now controlling the entire travel process from bookings, flights, hotels and tour arrangements. Funds stay offshore while the industry recognises the zero-dollar tour model that once plagued Thailand has arrived in Myanmar. Myanmar Times refers to the Thai government’s successful crackdown of zero-dollar tours. It was a costly campaign that cut into the travel arrivals and for a year and local tour operators feared the business would not return.

Kayah govt welcomes stakeholders at community tourism conference The Myanmar Times 13th Jun 2019
The 4th National Conference on Communities and Tourism, held from June 6-8, saw nearly 350 participants from tourism businesses and community-based groups as well as the state chief minister. This year’s theme for the conference is “Decentralisation, Destination and Development”, mirroring the new Tourism Law which gives state and regional governments the power to build an enabling environment for responsible investment in tourism in their region and destination management. The three-day seminar included panel discussions on topics including Sustainable and Responsible Tourism in Myanmar on the first day, New Tourism Regulatory Framework and Decentralization in Myanmar on the second day, as well as eight workshops on the final day. A handicraft fair was also held throughout Loikaw State Hall including demonstrations on the development of sustainable products.

Tourism Ministry Orders Industry Dedollarization The Irrawaddy 17th Jun 2019
For the second time, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MOHT) has ordered business owners in the Myanmar tourism industry to stop collecting payments in the form of U.S. dollars. If companies want to continue accepting U.S. dollars, a letter sent by the MOHT to the Myanmar Tourism Federation (MTF) said, they must apply to become an authorized dealer (AD) with a money changing license from the Central Bank. The letter was signed by MTF General Secretary U Kyi Thein Ko and sent to the MTF’s 11 affiliate organizations last Thursday. Its authenticity was confirmed to The Irrawaddy on Friday by a tourism ministry official.

Two tourism zones to be set up in Mandalay The Myanmar Times 12th Jun 2019
Kuthodaw Pagoda and Mandalay Hill will be designated as historical sites, and Inwa ancient city in Tada-U township will be designated an architectural attraction. Acceptance of bids for the project will begin at the end of this month, and the duration of the contract will be five years. “Depending on how much they can offer, we will grant a contract. For example, they have to improve infrastructure like roads and basic amenities like sanitation facilities. After five years, if visitors are satisfied with their services, we will extend the contract.

Govt relaxes visa restrictions for Europe, urged to regulate ‘zero-dollar tours’ The Myanmar Times 6th Jun 2019
Under a new Look West Policy, The Myanmar Times understands that tourists from Germany, Italy, Australia, Russia, Switzerland and Spain will be able to apply for visas on arrival at US$50 per visa and be permitted to remain in Myanmar for a period of 30 days. The term of the visas cannot be extended. However, the ministry has yet to issue an official announcement on the development, said U Khin Maung Soe, director of the Department of Information and Local and International Relations.  U Thet Lwin Toe, chair of the Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneurs Association reaffirmed that the move is close to being finalised. “We will announce the new development as soon as the announcement is made by the ministry,” he said. 

Philippines

DOT: ‘Keep tourism in check’ philstar.com 26th Jun 2019
While the Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomed the new Surfing Academy attraction in Cebu, it reiterated its call to keep optimum balance in tourism. DOT undersecretary for Tourism Development Planning Benito C. Bengzon Jr., said it is good for Bluewater Resorts Group to think of such attraction, as water sport activities are one of the priority products being pushed by the tourism administration under the leadership of secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat. However, Bengzon is reminding the management of Bluewater Resorts Group as well as the stakeholders in general to be mindful of the environment, as this another attraction would mean more visitors to the island. Although, the environmental consciousness among stakeholders and communities in general have significantly increased, especially after the Boracay Island closure, it is imperative that responsible tourism should be sustained.

Positioning the Philippines as global diving destination BusinessMirror 23rd Jun 2019
The Philippines is gaining popularity as one of the world’s best destinations for recreational and professional diving. To help further cement this reputation, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, marketing arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT), continues to exhaust aggressive efforts in promoting the Philippines as a diving destination.

Philippines to bid for hosting rights to world tourism conference in 2021 Business World 10th Jun 2019
THE Philippines will be bidding to host the next United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in 2021, with other Asian countries expressing support for the bid. In a statement Monday, the Department of Tourism (DoT) said that the Philippines will bid to host the event, held every two years, garnering the support of the Joint Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization Commission on Asia and the Pacific (CAP) and the Commission on South Asia (CSA). “The bid is timed with the celebration of the quincentennial (500th year) of the world’s first circumnavigation” which reached Cebu in 1521 prior to completing the return voyage to Spain, the DoT said. This year’s 23rd UNWTO General Assembly will take place on Sept. 9-13 in Russia. At that conference the host for the 24th UNWTO General Assembly will be announced. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said hosting will give the Philippines the opportunity to show off the sustainability of its tourism programs. “The Philippines is excited to host the UNWTO General Assembly in 2021, primarily to showcase the country’s sustainable tourism programs and actions and secondly, to give importance to the nation’s significant role in world maritime history and to draw highlight to our country’s discovery,” she said. During the UNWTO meeting in Bhutan on June 4, the Philippines was chosen as member of the Committee on Tourism and Sustainability and Committee on Statistics and the Tourism Satellite Account. — Gillian M. Cortez

Mimaropa arrivals rising only 10% despite tourism ‘jewels’ BusinessMirror 18th Jun 2019
TOURIST arrivals in the Mimaropa (Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) or Region 4B, are ptrojected to hit some 2.81 million this year. In a text message to the BusinessMirror, Tourism Regional Director for Mimaropa Danilo B. Intong said, “We are only targeting a 10-percent increase in 2019.” Last year, total tourist arrivals in the region—home to some of tourism’s “crown jewels”—reached some 2.55 million, according to a news statement from the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Singapore

STB opens call for entries for Singapore Tourism Accelerator TTG Asia 26th Jun 2019
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is calling for local and international companies to join the Singapore Tourism Accelerator programme. The pilot programme, which will run for two years, aims to develop solutions to long-standing issues, as well as developing new ideas that will transform the tourism sector. Poh Chi Chuan, director, digital transformation, STB said: “With increasing disruption faced by the tourism sector, we are committed to help our industry partners meet the challenges and stay ahead of the competition. “The Singapore Tourism Accelerator gives us a platform to work with companies with innovative solutions that can be applied across the industry and to enhance the overall visitor experience.” The accelerator was first announced during the 2019 Tourism Industry Conference as the Singapore Tourism Incubator.

Integrated Resorts to invest S$9 billion in new world-class attractions and experiences Singapore Ministry of Finance 17th Jun 2019
The two Integrated Resorts (IRs) have committed around S$9 billion in non-gaming investments to build new world-class tourism and MICE facilities and attractions, many of which will be first-in-Singapore. The IRs’ investments will enhance the vibrancy and tourism appeal of their offerings to remain competitive with other destinations in the region, and bring in more than half a million additional visitors annually. Singaporeans can look forward to more lifestyle and entertainment options. The IR expansions will create up to 5,000 new jobs directly and benefit local businesses, including small and medium enterprises.

STB and NAFA Cook Up Partnership to Welcome The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 to Singapore Singapore Tourism Board 10th Jun 2019
This June, Orchard Road is set to be adorned with 70 culinary-themed art pieces created by students from Singapore’s pioneer arts institution, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). It is a partnership initiative by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and NAFA in support of Singapore being the host city of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019, which will be held in Asia for the first time this June.

Thailand

Declining tourist numbers put pressure on THAI Bangkok Post 18th Jun 2019
Passenger traffic during the low tourism season in the third quarter will have a direct bearing on Thai Airways International Plc's (THAI) revenue for the entire year, says a source at the national carrier. THAI has acknowledged that although the country is the top tourist choice for Chinese visitors, confidence in travel safety and tensions over the US-China trade war could push down the number of Chinese travellers to Thailand, which threatens to hurt the airline's profits. Declining passenger traffic may have started as early as the first quarter of this year, the airline said in an email interview with the Bangkok Post. The airline has said the number of Chinese tourists decreased by 1.7% in the first quarter compared to the same period last year. The new concerns threaten to further contribute to the decline in air traffic to and from China. "It's worth being aware of those potential impacts," the national carrier said, referring to safety concerns and the trade war between China and the US.

US remains top source of Thailand's hotel guests Bangkok Post 13th Jun 2019
The US is still the largest feeder market to Thai hotels, while China has surpassed Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea for second place, according to a report by Expedia Group. Demand for hotels from Americans has grown by 20% year-on-year. Another rising country is India, which breached the top 10 list of feeders to Thai hotels this year.

TAT targets Eastern European market in bid to boost yacht tourism Bangkok Post 8th Jun 2019
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) aims to increase yacht tourism from Europe, especially from landlocked Eastern European countries. Srisuda Wanapinyosak, deputy governor of international marketing for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas at the TAT, said yacht tourism is growing and Phuket is a hot destination. The agency also plans to use marketing promotions to attract arrivals from emerging markets in Africa and South America that have no direct flights to Thailand.

Tourism-growth projected at 4.65% Bangkok Post 25th Jun 2019
The Tourism Council of Thailand expects 40.06 million foreign visitors this year, up 4.65% on last year, while tourism operators' confidence is stable. TCT president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn made the projection on Tuesday. He said the outlook for the third quarter was 9.70 million visitors, up 7.06% year-on-year.

AoT awaits approval for B200bn expansion Bangkok Post 24th Jun 2019
Airports of Thailand Plc will seek approval from the new government for planned developments costed at 200 billion baht, AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said on Monday. New airports are proposed for Phuket and Chiang Mai, a new terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport and the expansion of Don Mueang airport. Another key project is taking over the airports in Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon, Tak and Chumphon provinces from the Airports Department.

Thailand's $13 Billion Plan Could Woo 65 Million Tourists Yearly Bloomberg.com 20th Jun 2019
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy plans to pour about $13 billion into expanding airport capacity and connecting major terminals with high-speed railways. As a result, foreign tourist numbers could jump more than 60% by 2029 to about the size of the U.K. population, projections from The World Travel & Tourism Council show.

Transport Co expects new rental bus delivery next year Bangkok Post 18th Jun 2019
Transport Co expects the delivery of rented brand-new buses next year after the state enterprise announces the e-bidding winner. Transport Co will call the e-bidding for the renting of 314 buses next week and board chairman Surapol Tapananon said on Monday the winner will be announced by year-end. The state-run bus firm has set aside 2.2 billion baht for the rental project under a four-year contract. It is part of the plans to improve its fleet.

Tourism ministry, NSTDA mull way to cap visitor numbers Bangkok Post 17th Jun 2019
The Tourism and Sports Ministry is working with the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) to cap the number of visitors at natural destinations in a bid to promote more sustainable tourism. The two bodies have signed a memorandum of understanding to apply science, technology and innovation to set national guidelines for tourism carrying capacity in three types of areas: mountains, seas and cultural/historical sites.

Thailand ready to tap busy Muslim travel market Bangkok Post 17th Jun 2019
Halal tourism is one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors, with faith-based needs and behaviour from Islamic travellers gaining, according to the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2019, an annual survey by Mastercard and CrescentRating. In its fifth edition, the GMTI revealed robust growth in the market and named Thailand as a friendly country for Muslim travellers. The Muslim travel market is expected to reach US$220 billion by 2020 with 160 million tourists, rising 36% to $300 billion with 230 million travellers in 2026. The GMTI 2019 shows that Thailand ranked second among the top 10 preferred destinations for Muslim travel among countries outside of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with a score of 57, behind Singapore with 65.

Vietnam

Vietnam’s liberalization efforts lead to booming tourism industry VietNamNet 16th Jun 2019
The booming of Vietnam’s tourism over the past few years was largely thanks to the government’s continued liberalization efforts, HSBC said in its latest report. Tourist arrivals have risen since 2000 and have surged since 2015, reaching a record high of 15 million in 2018. The pace of tourist arrivals has also risen, doubling from 7.5 million to 15 million over the last six years. Not surprisingly, more tourists have brought more revenue to the country. Tourism receipts accelerated in the past decade, generating US$27 billion in 2018, equivalent to 11% of the GDP. In mid-2015, Vietnam introduced a pilot one-year program granting visa exemptions to five European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK. The scheme has since been extended three times and is now scheduled to last until 2020.

Vietnam's tourism sector must focus on infrastructure, regulatory changes VietNamNet 16th Jun 2019
Provided with beautiful landscapes, long beaches and rich cultural and marine resources, Binh Dinh Province is expected to transform into a key destination for both domestic and foreign visitors. But like some other areas, the province's biggest hurdle in becoming more attractive to tourists is its lack of developed infrastructure. “Binh Dinh’s tourism sector has been developing less than expected because the infrastructure and facilities are still limited and underdeveloped,” said Nguyen Tien Dat, deputy director of tourism company Transviet. The underdevelopment of infrastructure connecting different tourism sites has made it hard for visitors to come to the province, according to Ho Quoc Dung, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee. Provincial authorities and businesses had been focusing on building accommodations for tourists but construction had still not been able to keep pace with demand, Huynh Cao Nhat, director of the provincial Department of Tourism, said.

Tourism development should not harm environment: tourism minister vietnamnews.vn 10th Jun 2019
Responding to questions over sustainable tourism development, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyễn Ngọc Thiện commitment of the tourism sector not harm environment and cultural heritage, adding: “We cannot sacrifice heritage in exchange for economic development.” The ministry will focus on developing marine tourism and plan sea tourism destinations with the socio-economic development plan in order not to destroy environment and resources, he said.

Minister says rules for condotels, officetels coming this year vietnamplus.vn 8th Jun 2019
Minister of Construction Pham Hong Ha said at the meeting of the National Assembly early this week that his ministry and the Ministry of Natural Resources would complete regulations relating to condotel and officetel this year. In response to delegate Ly Thiet Hanh, Minister Ha said the Ministry of Construction (MoC) was responsible for revising standards and regulations relating to condotels and officetels and also promulgating management and operation regulations for the property products. He said this process would be completed this year. He also said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment would provide guidance on land use for condotel or condotel constructions incorporating housing.

Vietnam should promote tourism in Chinese market: Tourism Minister VietNamNet 6th Jun 2019
Speaking at the Q&A session of the National Assembly’s (NA’s) ongoing sitting, Nguyen Quoc Hung, a deputy from Hanoi, asked the minister to explain the falling number of international visitors to the country during the year up to May and the low competitiveness of the local tourism sector. In response, Thien said that the country saw only an 8.8% year-on-year increase in the number of international tourists during the first five months, mainly caused by the falling number of Chinese visitors. Meanwhile, the number of foreign tourists visiting the country had doubled in the past three years.