Travel and Tourism Update: October 16, 2019

Travel and Tourism Update | October 16, 2019
Authors: Shay Wester, Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Steven Gunawan, Aree Tomes
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • October 17-18, 2019: Best Practice Seminar of ASEAN MRA-TP hosted by Indonesia Ministry of Tourism
  • November 8, 2019: Travel and Tourism Quarterly Committee Meeting and 1st Planning Meeting for Mission to the 23rd Meetings of ASEAN Tourism Ministers (M-ATM) in Brunei
  • January 12 – 16, 2020: 23rd Meetings of ASEAN Tourism Ministers (M-ATM), Brunei
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Cambodia Introduces New Tourism Master Plan

With main tourist attractions such as Angkor Archaeological Park dropping 9.7% in tourists and the Preah Vihear temple complex dropping 5.5%, the Cambodian government is preparing to institute a master plan for reviving tourism in northern region of the Kingdom. At the committee’s third meeting on September 16, 2019, Minister of Tourism, Thon Khon, and minister of Environment, Say Sam Al, promoted The Four-Strategic Plan for Tourism Development as it includes ways of diversifying new tourism products, extending tourists’ stays in the Kingdom, and boosting competitiveness and connectivity in Siem Reap. In order to ensure the quality of tourism in Cambodia, Minister Khon also made clear that the sale of counterfeit souvenirs and fake products will not be permitted.

Locations including Kulen Mountain, Siem Reap town, and Tonle Sap Lake area have been selected as zones for new tourism product development. Pacific Asia Travel Association president Thourn Sinan requested that the development of tourism in Cambodia be a collective effort by stakeholders, tour guides, tourist transporters, sellers, hotel owners, guesthouses, and restaurants because the potential revenue will impact the entire community and to do so without waiting for authorities or tourism associations to start the process. According to the Ministry of Tourism, stakeholders have already taken efforts to improve the industry which has been reflected by Cambodia’s position as third in ASEAN for tourism growth.

Read more at The Phnom Penh Post and The Khmer Times.

Potential “Sex Ban” threatens Bali tourism

A proposed bill known as the Criminal Code (KUHP) bill is one of the many controversial bills passed into law by the Indonesian government as it authorizes criminalizing consensual sex between an unmarried couple. The regulation caused much uproar not only by the younger Indonesian generation but by national and international media since the “sex ban” will affect foreigners’ decisions to travel to Indonesia. Although the Code will not go into effect until two years after it is passed, people already fear that both tourism and competition will leave Bali and go to nearby locations such as Thailand instead.

The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association Bali chapter administration responded to critics by stating that the Criminal Code was only a draft and that only upon the approval of the President and the House of Representative will it be imposed. Until then, the Bali association encourages tourists to “stay calm” and continue their “activities” normally.

Some of the punishments for breaking the law are explained in an article published by The Jarkarta Post located here.

International Finance Corporation loans $87.5M for Laos and Vietnam tourism

An agreement involving a loan of up to $87.5 million to BIM Land Joint Stock Company has been reached to develop tourism infrastructure in Vietnam and Laos. On September 16, 2019, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in conjunction with the World Bank Group decided to add more than 1,500 international quality hotel rooms or serviced apartments in Vientiane, Halong Bay and Phu Quoc Island. The development efforts expect to create 1,400 jobs, 60% of which are for women in addition to sourcing 90% of goods and services locally. To maintain a green and sustainable tourism business, the IFC’s Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies Green Building Certification System will be implemented during hotel construction which reduces energy, water, and material consumption. The installment of the IFC loan is set to improve employment, foreign exchange earnings, and tax revenues in the two countries while also strengthening supply chains, stimulating growth, and driving participation from the private sector.

Malaysian MP Push to Drop Visa Fees for Sake of Tourism Competition

In efforts to boost tourism in Malaysia, Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng suggests the government reconsider visa fees imposed on tourists from select countries and follow models exemplified by Thailand and Russia. Thailand made the decision to waive 2,000 THB (approximately $65 USD) for tourist visas beginning last year and until the end of October this year. Russia adopted a similar scheme, allowing free electronic visas to travelers from 53 countries including Malaysia. The program also granted an eight-day extension period outside of the visa’s standard month-long validity period.

Malaysia currently imposes visa fees on travelers depending on their country of origin. India, for example, is one of the countries with high visa fees required by Malaysian authorities. Indian passport holders can enter Malaysia with either an eVISA which limits their stay to a 30-day maximum for each visit or an eNTRI which provides the holder a 15-day maximum for each visit with no extension allowed. In addition to the $35 processing visa, the eVISA costs $21.50 while the eNTRI costs $45. According to a recent article published by The Hindu, it is indicated that there has been a 15.2% growth in Indian tourists visiting Malaysia in the first six months of the current. Considering the growing demand for tourism in Malaysia shown by India’s interest, Lim calculated that even a 5% increase in overall tourist spending has the potential to generate an extra RM2 billion (more than $4.7 million USD) for the country in tourism receipts.

Malaysian Productivity Corporation drafts Short-Term Residential Accommodation guidelines

The Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) organized a public consultation exercise on October 9 to discuss a draft guideline regulating Short-Term Residential Accommodation (STRA) activities, specifically on digital platforms.

While the hotel industry is highly regulated, STRAs such as Airbnb, Agoda, Booking.com and Expedia are not required to abide by the same standards. The Malaysian Association of Hotels expressed concern stating that the increasing popularity of STRA amongst tourists has benefitted offline travel agents but disrupted the hotel market.

The collaborative effort involved the Technical Working Group, co-chaired by the Department of Local Government (JKT), the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), as well as several relevant stakeholders. The drafted guideline included six components to address hotel industry concerns:

  • Licensing of hosts and agents
  • Licensing of platforms
  • Number of days STRA can operate
  • Fire safety requirement
  • Managing public nuisance
  • Taxation

The objective of the guideline is to enhance productivity, economic growth, innovation, and competitiveness. MPC director-general Datuk Abdul Latif Abu Seman assured stakeholders that the guideline is to be a reference point for further implementation of the above components while ensuring safety, security, health, public good, and welfare. A statutory body of the Malaysia Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), MPC aims to provide value-added information on productivity, quality, competitiveness, and best practices through research and human capital development.

The guideline is open to feedback and comments from the public and private sectors as well as interested parties until November 30. The draft guideline can be accessed here.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

The Council seeks members’ views the Malaysian Productivity Corporation draft for Short-Term Residential Accommodation (STRA) guideline. On October 9, the corporation collaborated with the Department of Local Government, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and several relevant stakeholders to address hotel industry concerns including licensing of hosts, agents, and platforms, the number of days STRA can operate, fire safety requirement, managing public nuisance, and taxation. Contents of the Draft Guideline on Short-Term Residential Accommodation (STRA) may be found on the Unified Public Consultation website. The guideline serves as a general framework to respond to issues with the home sharing economy and desires input from stakeholders, respective ministries, and regulators. Should you wish to provide feedback, please visit the Unified Public Consultation website to directly submit a comment before November 30, 2019 when public consultation closes. Should you wish to submit feedback through the Council, please email Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez at lalmonte@usasean.org or Steven Gunawan at sgunawan@usasean.org by November 20 so there is adequate time to coordinate and consolidate members' submissions.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Dams destroy the Mekong and damage tourism
Centara Hotels celebrates Myanmar entry
New travel tech show launches in 2020

Brunei
Brunei scores high in Asia-Pacific’s price competitiveness
Brunei to capitalise on rise of sports tourism
The Box hopes to be landmark development and tourist attraction

Cambodia
Tourist decline continues at Angkor
Government unveils tourism masterplan to increase visitors
Cambodia’s tourism competitiveness improves

Indonesia
Indonesia cancels plan to ban tourists from Komodo Island
'We should do something or the island will be empty': Criminal Code threatens Bali tourism 
Indonesia says Abu Dhabi extends investment proposals worth at...
Govt faces uphill battle to make Lake Toba world-class destination
West Java to promote historical railway tour for foreign tourists
Govt sets a target of 10,000 of tourism villages by 2020
Getting Ready for Transportation 4.0

Laos
IFC agrees $87.5M loan for Vietnam, Lao tourism
Second Sustainable Tourism Solutions Expo a Great Success
Laos-Japan Friendship Park To Be Opened In Coming September
Laos to Offer Free Wi-Fi at Landmarks in Vientiane
Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam formulate tourism development plan
Construction of New, Mega Cultural Park in Vientiane Commences
Lao Handicrafts Promoted Through Tourism
Newly explored cave could be Laos’ largest
Lao PM rejects unsustainable tourism projects in Vang Vieng
Charter flights set to bolster tourism between Hangzhou, Vientiane

Malaysia
VM2020: Tourism Malaysia aims for more than 12 million tourist arrivals from S’pore
MPC, stakeholders conduct public consultation on proposed STRA guideline
Tourist arrivals increase 4.9% in 1H19
Marriott International sees huge untapped potential in Malaysia’s tourism industry 
The Changing Trends Of Travel In Malaysia
Heritage Tourism In Malaysia Is A Delicate Balancing Act
Special zones to attract tech investments in tourism
Dr M: Malaysia to embrace digital technology for tourism
Ministry backs departure levy

Myanmar
‘Provide packages to promote Myanmar as tourist destination’
Public Video Contest Aims to Boost Myanmar Tourism
Myanmar extends visa-on-arrival access to six more countries
Nationals of six more countries granted visa-on-arrival into Myanmar
Myanmar recruits actor to push tourism
Moving into the Myanmar market

Philippines
Cayetano wants Philippines to invest in sports tourism
Close to home: PH startup taps locals to promote sustainable tourism
Marriott plans to more than triple its portfolio in the Philippines 
Philippines announces residence visa scheme
Philippines has plans for disputed island
DOT: International tourist arrivals surpass 5-M mark
Guimaras told to turn to agriculture as tourism drops 74% in August 
Philippines wants to attract more cruise ships to its ports
Cebu City to host farm tourism conference
On Senate prodding, DOT says will regulate AirBnbs - Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo
Marriott International bullish on local growth | BusinessWorld
The Philippines’ luxury tourist boom is fuelling violence against environmental activists
Exporters turn to tourism services - Elijah Felice Rosales

Singapore
Hotel supply to grow 2% in 2019
Singapore asks NS Govt to open tourism, trade office in republic
Co-living hotel to open in Singapore
ANALYSIS: Singapore Airlines continues to dominate US flights
World News Day: Health Ministry clamps down on medical tourism in public hospitals
Tourists in Singapore grumble, and cough, over haze
Technology, tourism among areas of interest in strengthening Singapore-India ties: DPM Heng
Tourist spending down 4.8% in Q1, even as arrivals grew 1%

Thailand
Tourism Authority of Thailand launches regional campaign
Operators lukewarm on tourism scheme
Economic ministers to discuss tourism, exports at Oct 7 meeting
Cabinet OKs new perks for tourism
Thailand to demand proof of health insurance for 'risky' long-term visitors
Thailand calling
TAT to focus on enticing Thais to holiday in the Kingdom
Phuket launches initiative to become smarter and safer
Govt considers expanding limits on ‘Eat, Shop, Spend’ scheme
Tourism to surge in Phuket during vegetarian festival
The Baht Is ‘Frightening’ Thailand’s Tourism Industry
Deputy PM, Tourism Minister approve 90-day, visa-free stays for American, Japanese medical tourists
Somkid: Extend tourism scheme
Arrivals projection cut amid global slowdown, high baht
TAT ratchets up campaigns in bid to meet trips target
World Heritage help sought
August foreign tourist arrivals up 5.6% y-o-y
Sustainability made priority
Ministry postpones levy on foreign visitors
Ride-sharing firms 'to be legal by March'
Plans to streamline tourism handout
Dasta backs handout scheme
Tourism Department mulls minimum prices for tour packages
AoT unveils airport app for global travellers
Tourism boss snips 2019 foreign arrivals
Airports upgrade plan now includes minister's home province
Cabinet blocks visa plan
Boost to infrastructure stressed in ways to grow Thai tourism
Ministry readies handouts to kick-start domestic tourism
Ministry's new safety guidelines aim to reassure travellers
TAT and startups put focus on Nordic market

Vietnam
Tourism to develop in accordance with advanced techonology
HCM City eyes smart tourism development
Deputy PM approves extension of tourist-car service via border
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Dams destroy the Mekong and damage tourism TTR Weekly 11th Oct 2019
Tourism is billed as a lifesaver that brings countless job opportunities and lifts towns and communities out of the poverty trap.    The river lends its name to a very successful marketing effort funded by the six countries Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Optimists in tourism and there are many, suggest Mekong Tourism is on the cusp of success. Yet there is the clear and present danger that this iconic river flowing from the Himalayan ranges in China to Vietnam’s rice bowl delta on the South China Sea will be transformed into a series of artificial stepped lakes as governments build more dams.

Centara Hotels celebrates Myanmar entry Bangkok Post 11th Oct 2019
Centara Hotels and Resorts is set to expand into Myanmar through a hotel management agreement with KMA Group, a subsidiary of Kaung Myanmar Aung Group of Companies, to operate Centara KMA Resort Inle Lake. The 95-room hotel is located on the shores of Inle Lake, one of the key landmarks of central Myanmar. It is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of this year. Thirayuth Chirathivat, chief executive of Centara Hotels and Resorts, said the partnership with KMA will benefit tourism in both Thailand and Myanmar.

New travel tech show launches in 2020 TTR Weekly 9th Oct 2019
Messe Berlin (Singapore) will host a brand new show Travel Tech Asia 2020 in Singapore, 21 to 23 October 2020. Travel Tech Asia will bring together a fresh set of buyer participants, identified as ‘tech buyers’. They are mainly made up of top executives in distribution, sales and marketing, e-commerce and IT from hotels, travel agencies, airlines, tours and activities. Conference speakers will share information on emerging technologies, trends, ideas and applicable case studies that will set the stage for new possibilities in travel.

Brunei

Brunei scores high in Asia-Pacific’s price competitiveness Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 11th Oct 2019
Brunei Darussalam is a top scorer in price competitiveness in the Asia-Pacific region in the recently released Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) 2019 of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The Sultanate ranked second globally, thanks to low fuel prices (6th) and ticket taxes and airport charges (14th). Besides price competitiveness which the Sultanate scored 6.6, it also scored high in safety and security (6.1), health and hygiene (5.5) and ICT readiness (5.4). Globally, Brunei Darussalam ranked 72nd among 140 countries and territories. The Sultanate’s position was not recorded in the biannual ranking in 2017. In Southeast Asia, Singapore was ranked as the most competitive travel and tourism economy, followed by Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam in sixth place.

Brunei to capitalise on rise of sports tourism The Scoop 29th Sep 2019
Brunei wants to cash in on the growing sports tourism industry after compiling a list of adventure sports available in the sultanate. Collaborating with tourism service providers and travel tour operators, the government identified 15 sports and adventure activities in a brochure that was launched on Thursday. The activities range from mountain biking to abseiling, hiking and camping, water sports and diving, archery, golfing, and birdwatching. The US$488.5 billion sports tourism industry is one of the fastest growing segments of the global travel industry. Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong said the government has not set a target on the number of sports tourists but is aiming to reach 300,000 tourist arrivals this year.

The Box hopes to be landmark development and tourist attraction Biz Brunei 8th Sep 2019
The highly anticipated opening of Brunei’s biggest container-styled establishment The Box took place yesterday, with its founder hoping to position the commercial space as a landmark retail development and tourist attraction. Located opposite Telanai Avenue, the 19,864 square feet facility houses 63 units – 61 within refurbished containers – across two floors, with over 300 seats and a central patio area that serves as a mini-amphitheater.

Cambodia

Tourist decline continues at Angkor Bangkok Post 2nd Oct 2019
The number of foreign visitors at the world-famous Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap continues to decline according to the latest figures from Angkor Enterprise. Angkor Enterprise’s latest report, issued on Tuesday, shows that 1.6 million foreign tourists bought passes to the temple complex from January to September, a 12% decline over the same nine-month period in 2018, the Khmer Times reported on Wednesday.

Government unveils tourism masterplan to increase visitors Phnom Penh Post 30th Sep 2019
The government is set to roll out the Four-Strategic Plan for Tourism Development aimed at reviving tourism in the Kingdom’s northern provinces, an inter-ministerial committee meeting has decided. The two main tourist destinations discussed were Angkor Archaeological Park and the Preah Vihear temple complex, which saw a 9.7 per cent and 5.5 per cent drop in tourists during the first seven months of the year.

Cambodia’s tourism competitiveness improves Khmer Times 25th Sep 2019
Cambodia is making inroads in terms of competitiveness into the global tourism stage. In the latest edition of the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TCCI), released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) this month, Cambodia went up three places. The Kingdom is now ranked 98 in the world. The WEF releases the report every two years. The report includes 140 countries ranked according to their business environment, safety and security, air transportation infrastructure, natural resources, tourism policies, and price competitiveness, among other factors.

Indonesia

Indonesia cancels plan to ban tourists from Komodo Island KYMA 2nd Oct 2019
Indonesia has canceled plans to close its popular Komodo Island for tourists, but will instead impose a limit on the number of visitors to protect its native giant lizard. The country will set up an annual membership system for those who wish to visit the tourist spot, said the country's maritime affairs minister, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, according to the state-run Antara news agency. "Komodo Island will not be closed," he said. "A restriction will be placed on the number of tourists to Komodo island by rearranging its ticketing system."

'We should do something or the island will be empty': Criminal Code threatens Bali tourism  The Jakarta Post 25th Sep 2019
Protests against the passage of a number of controversial bills into law continued on Tuesday with thousands of university students from across Indonesia gathered in front of the House of Representatives compound in Central Jakarta since 1 p.m. Among the controversial bills is the Criminal Code (KUHP) bill, in which several articles aim to regulate morality by criminalizing, among other things, consensual sex between an unmarried couple, cohabitation, abortion and the promotion of contraception.

Indonesia says Abu Dhabi extends investment proposals worth at... Reuters 20th Sep 2019
JAKARTA, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Indonesia is considering investment proposals from Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund worth at least $1 billion, an Indonesian minister said on Thursday. The proposals offer two scenarios for the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) to invest in Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister of maritime affairs, said in a statement. In one of the scenarios, the fund could directly invest about $1 billion in property projects including in tourism areas. Another option is for Jakarta to set up a new Indonesia Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), which will become a pool for funds from various foreign governments, and the United Arab Emirates could contribute up to $10 billion in stages for infrastructure financing or other investments.

Govt faces uphill battle to make Lake Toba world-class destination The Jakarta Post 14th Aug 2019
As the largest volcanic lake in the world, Lake Toba in North Sumatra has what it takes to be developed into a world-class tourist destination, especially under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo 10 new Balis initiative, which aims to boost the economy amid stagnating consumer spending and a slowing investment outlook. However, a lack of basic tourist infrastructure has become a major obstacle in fulfilling the President’s wishes, with water pollution issues and several recent boat accidents putting a dent in the lake’s reputation.

West Java to promote historical railway tour for foreign tourists Antara News 14th Aug 2019
West Java will promote its historical railway tour to boost foreign tourist visits to the region, the Province's Tourism and Culture Office stated. Head of the office Dedi Taufik stated here on Wednesday that the railway tour promotion will be conducted during a two-day activity themed “Smiling West Java Historical Railway Tour,” planned to be held on Aug 21-22.

Govt sets a target of 10,000 of tourism villages by 2020 Antara News 13th Aug 2019
The Ministry of Village, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration has targeted to increase the number of tourism villages to 10,000 by 2020, from the current 7,275 tourism villages, or around 9,71 percent of the total of villages in Indonesia. "We are targeting 10,000 tourism villages, because we have seen that in the last four years (the government has provided) village funds, and it has turned out that tourism villages are able to provide a large income," Minister of Village, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration, Eko Putro Sandjojo, said in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Getting Ready for Transportation 4.0 Jakarta Globe 5th Aug 2019
When commercial jets started to take to the skies in the 1950s, they heralded a new era in transportation. The modern jet has redefined both space and time and has allowed humanity to traverse the globe and visit far-flung places. Today, on average eight million people fly every day and more than four billion people fly annually.

Laos

IFC agrees $87.5M loan for Vietnam, Lao tourism Phnom Penh Post 17th Sep 2019
Bim Land Joint Stock Company, a property developer under BIM Group, has reached an agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, for a loan of up to $87.5 million to develop tourism infrastructure in Vietnam and Laos.

Second Sustainable Tourism Solutions Expo a Great Success The Laotian Times 30th Sep 2019
Hundreds of visitors flocked to the second Sustainable Tourism Solutions Expo (STSE) this past weekend, marking a new commitment to sustainability within the tourism and hospitality industries.

Laos-Japan Friendship Park To Be Opened In Coming September :: KPL :: Lao News Agency 13th Sep 2019
The Laos-Japan Friendship Park has been expected to be opened for public use in coming September, one month before its handover. The park is located at Thana village, Sayaboury district, Sayaboury province. It is considered as a symbol of cooperation between Laos and Japan. The park features structures and houses built with Lao and Japanese architectural designs.

Laos to Offer Free Wi-Fi at Landmarks in Vientiane The Laotian Times 6th Sep 2019
Laos has launched a project to offer free Wi-Fi at landmarks in its capital Vientiane in a move to cater to not only the general public but also foreign visitors.

Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam formulate tourism development plan Xinhua 28th Aug 2019
Tourism officials from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam (CLV) are discussing a draft plan on tourism development in the triangle area covering 13 provinces of the three countries. The talks are taking place in southern Laos' Champasak province, some 484 km south of Lao capital Vientiane during the third Working Group Meeting on Formulation of the Tourism Development Plan for CLV in the Development Triangle Area, from Monday to Thursday, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Wednesday.

Construction of New, Mega Cultural Park in Vientiane Commences Laotian Times 16th Aug 2019
Construction of Lanxang Cultural Park kicked off on August 9 with a ground-breaking ceremony for the project. It is expected to take about nine years to complete the USD 80 million-construction project, which is divided into three different phases.

Lao Handicrafts Promoted Through Tourism KPL: Lao News Agency 16th Aug 2019
The annual event Lao Handicrafts Festival 2019 themed “Promote Lao Handicrafts Through Tourism” has been scheduled to take place at the Lao-ITECC, Vientiane on Oct 26- Nov 3, 2019. President of the Lao Handicraft’s Association Hansana Sisan told a press conference in Vientiane on August 15 that the festival has been held every year since 2001, and this year was its 18th edition. The objective of the festival is to raise public awareness of preserving and promoting local handicrafts and culture.

Newly explored cave could be Laos’ largest Lifestyle.inq 15th Aug 2019
A group of Japanese experts say the little known Phaka cave in Namfeuang village, Maed district, Vientiane province, could be the largest cave in Laos. The cave, which is located on the Namfeuang River, has been explored by the Japanese over the past few months since March, an official at the Maed district Information, Culture and Tourism office, Mr Saydaen Sounlintha, told Vientiane Times yesterday.

Lao PM rejects unsustainable tourism projects in Vang Vieng Phnom Penh Post 15th Aug 2019
The Lao government will not grant permission to proposed tourism projects in Vang Vieng if no sustainable development plan is available or applicable, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has told local authorities. Some developers have submitted proposals to the cabinet seeking a green light to build tourism complexes in popular Vang Vieng district in Vientiane province.

Charter flights set to bolster tourism between Hangzhou, Vientiane Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 15th Aug 2019
The start of charter flights between Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, China, and Vientiane is expected to spark greater cooperation in tourism, trading and investment between Laos and China. A ceremony to inaugurate the new flight took place last week in Hangzhou.

Malaysia

VM2020: Tourism Malaysia aims for more than 12 million tourist arrivals from S’pore www.thesundaily.my 14th Oct 2019
Tourism Malaysia which launched the official Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign in Singapore on Tuesday, is aiming for more than 12 million tourist arrivals from the republic next year. Tourism Malaysia is also optimistic of an increase of 3% to 5% tourist arrivals from the southern neighbour for the whole of 2019. According to the Director of Tourism Malaysia Singapore, Edzuar Zar Ayob Azari, for this year, Tourism Malaysia expects 12 million tourist arrivals from the city-state. “Going by the current trend, we will witness a rise of between 3% to 4% in tourist arrivals from Singapore this year compared to 2018,” he told Bernama when met on the sidelines of the VM2020 launch.

MPC, stakeholders conduct public consultation on proposed STRA guideline The Edge Markets 9th Oct 2019
The Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) and several other stakeholders are undertaking a public consultation exercise on a draft guideline to regulate Short-Term Residential Accommodation (STRA) activities on digital platforms, including Airbnb, Agoda and Booking.com. The guideline is a collaborative effort by a technical working group, co-chaired by the Department of Local Government, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, facilitated by the MPC and involving several relevant stakeholders.

Tourist arrivals increase 4.9% in 1H19 The Malaysian Reserve 3rd Oct 2019
MALAYSIA saw a growth of tourist arrivals in the first half of 2019 (1H19) compared to the same period last year, with an increase of 4.9% to 13.4 million tourists. Based on Tourism Malaysia’s latest performance report, the country saw fewer tourist arrivals in the 1H18, which was a drop of 1.7% to 12.7 million. Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the growth was backed by the increase in flight connectivity and the continuous promotions with strategic partners and industry players.

Marriott International sees huge untapped potential in Malaysia’s tourism industry | Malay Mail Malay Mail 16th Sep 2019
Marriott International, the United States-based multinational diversified hospitality company that manages and franchises a broad portfolio of hotels and related lodging facilities, sees a huge untapped potential in Malaysia’s tourism industry as more investors are relocating their businesses to the Asean region, including Malaysia.

The Changing Trends Of Travel In Malaysia Star2.com 16th Sep 2019
Mohd Shahril says travel is certainly easier for him and his peers, as compared to say, his parents’ generation. “Unlike the old days, now we have almost everything we need at the tips of our fingers. We can look up information on the Internet, easily search for itineraries and book flights,” he says.

Heritage Tourism In Malaysia Is A Delicate Balancing Act Star2.com 10th Sep 2019
Jalan Tengkera in Melaka has all the markings of a great heritage tourism product – a war-torn past, centuries-old Dutch buildings, mystical tombs and households with heirloom artefacts. A team of researchers from Melaka In Fact recently did a cultural mapping of the area.When asked if the point of the exercise is to unlock tourism potential, the members – comprising Razak Bahrom, Bert Tan, Hamid Hasan and Wenila Nadarajan – immediately shut down the idea.“Our main aim is to give back to the community by collecting their stories and preserving the past,” Razak explains, adding that apart from staging exhibitions, the findings were shared with the Melaka Historic City Council and Museums Department.The dream, according to Tan, is to prevent Jalan Tengkera from succumbing to the detrimental effects of tourism that have plagued many heritage sites in Melaka.

Special zones to attract tech investments in tourism The Star Online 27th Aug 2019
Malaysia will designate Special Tourism Investment Zones nationwide to attract more infrastructure and new technology-based investments, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The Prime Minister said the zones that come under the National Tourism Policy will get specific incentives to attract investments. “Malaysia realises that technology advancement in tourism is about to break boundaries and open up infinite opportunities for growth globally,” he said in his opening speech at the World Tourism Conference here yesterday.

Dr M: Malaysia to embrace digital technology for tourism The Star Online 26th Aug 2019
Malaysia wants to embrace the digital technology trend to transform the nation's tourism industry, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The Prime Minister said the country is embarking on a comprehensive digitalisation journey to transform Malaysia's tourism industry towards smart tourism initiatives. He added that the government believes that it will be able to provide the necessary tools for the tourism industry to be internationally connected, perform rigorous data analytics of tourism futures and shorten the supply chain if it embraces digitalisation.

Ministry backs departure levy The Star Online 5th Aug 2019
PETALING JAYA: The Tourism Ministry is backing the implementation of the departure levy next month despite calls from the industry to defer the tax until after Visit Malaysia Year 2020. Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said after discussions with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, he fully supported the implementation of the departure levy for the development of the country.

Myanmar

‘Provide packages to promote Myanmar as tourist destination’ The New Indian Express 11th Oct 2019
Though India, particularly Tamil Nadu, shares a similar heritage and culture with Myanmar, tourists from here are very low due to lack of proper air connectivity, said Moe Kyaw Aung, Myanmar Ambassador to India, on Thursday. Speaking at the Indo-Myanmar meeting on Tourism-2019, organised by Tamil Nadu Tour Travel and Hospitality Association (TTTHA) here on Thursday, Moe Kyaw Aung said, “There are no many direct flights from India, especially from Chennai. This is one of the big hurdles for promoting Myanmar tourism among Indians”. “I encourage tour operators from here to provide good packages to these tourists to promote Myanmar tourism. Though, India shares similar culture and heritage with Myanmar, in terms of tourist arrival in Myanmar, India stands 10th place,” he said.

Public Video Contest Aims to Boost Myanmar Tourism The Irrawaddy 10th Oct 2019
In the past two years, the number of tourists visiting Myanmar has dropped, so CCI France Myanmar, the French chamber of commerce, has formed a partnership with the Myanmar Tourism Marketing Association to launch the #CometoMyanmar video contest to promote the country as a tourist destination. The competition is only open to Myanmar nationals and participants have to shoot a three-minute video showing what makes Myanmar attractive. The selected videos will be used overseas to promote Myanmar as a tourist destination.

Myanmar extends visa-on-arrival access to six more countries Business Traveller 8th Oct 2019
Visitors from Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Russia can now enter Myanmar with a visa on arrival. According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism of Myanmar, holders of ordinary passports issued from the six countries mentioned above arriving at Yangon International Airport, Mandalay International Airport or Nay Pyi Taw International Airport can apply for a visa on arrival for tourism purposes for “one year probation period” starting from October 1 this year. The fee for the visa on arrival, grated for tourism purposes only, is US$50. The duration of stay in Myanmar is 30 days.

Nationals of six more countries granted visa-on-arrival into Myanmar The Nation Thailand 5th Oct 2019
The Myanmar government has introduced new regulations to facilitate easier access for foreign tourists as another step towards opening up the country to the world . Started from October 1, tourists from six countries (Australia, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and Switzerland) can enter Myanmar on visa-on-arrival (VOA) at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw International Airports.

Myanmar recruits actor to push tourism TTR Weekly 24th Sep 2019
Myanmar’s popular actor and model, Paing Takhon, will act as a tourism ambassador to boost travel from Thailand to Myanmar. The appointment lasts one year, effective from 21 September, when the Myanmar Tourism Marketing Association together with the Myanmar Tourism Federation, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the actor. He will front promotions that capitalise on his popularity in Thailand where he is rapidly gaining popularity with a teenage fan base boosted by Thai Television channels and magazines.

Moving into the Myanmar market Bangkok Post 23rd Sep 2019
Centara Hotels and Resorts has joined forces with KMA Group in a bid to expand into Myanmar's growing tourism market. Centara yesterday signed a 10-year agreement with KMA, one of Myanmar's largest conglomerates, to operate Centara KMA Resort Inle Lake. Centara Hotels and Resorts has 75 hotel properties and aims to operate 134 in total under its five-year strategic plan.

Philippines

Cayetano wants Philippines to invest in sports tourism philstar.com 10th Oct 2019
House Speaker and Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee Chairman Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday stressed the need for efficient spending on the hosting of the biennial sports meet.  At the press launch for MILO’s new partnership deal with the governing bodies of the Philippines’ SEA Games hosting, Cayetano cited that sports tourism is a $600 billion industry that could prove to be beneficial should the Philippines explore it.  “Hindi lang Pilipinas lang ito. It will also build jobs in our country,” he said. 

Close to home: PH startup taps locals to promote sustainable tourism Rappler 3rd Oct 2019
Do you want to travel like a local? A Philippine startup is striving to offer this experience to travelers while helping local residents promote sustainable tourism in their communities. Tralulu is a digital booking platform that connects travelers around Southeast Asia to "quality local guides" who can provide them with an authentic travel experience. Tralulu provides an avenue for tourists to immerse in a community’s traditions and culture. It aims to promote communities that are not well known for tourism, especially in countries like the Philippines more popularly known for beach destinations.

Marriott plans to more than triple its portfolio in the Philippines – Business Traveller 2nd Oct 2019
Marriott International has opened four hotels in the Philippines, including Manila Marriott Hotel, Clark Marriott Hotel, Courtyard Iloilo, as well as Sheraton Manila Hotel that opened earlier this year. The company intends to open 14 more properties by the end of 2024, which would add over 3,700 new rooms for travellers. It plans to debut in five new destinations in the country, including Caticlan, Cebu, Davao, Mactan and Palawan, while introducing new brands such as The Ritz-Carlton, Element and Westin.

Philippines announces residence visa scheme Khaleej Times 1st Oct 2019
The Philippines' Special Retiree's Resident Visa 'Classic' has few restrictions on nationalities and gives you flexibility making it the most popular visa for retirees. Applicants as young as 35 to 49 years old can obtain this visa with an Dh184,000 deposit, while anyone 50-years-old and over can with a Dh37,000 deposit combined with proof of guaranteed monthly income (can be social security pensions) of Dh3,000 for individuals or Dh3,700 for couples. Without this proof, it costs a minimum deposit of AED 73,000.

Philippines has plans for disputed island The ASEAN Post 19th Aug 2019
The Philippines is aiming to strengthen its claims in the South China Sea by potentially building hotels for tourists on its biggest island in the disputed waterway, officials said Tuesday. Manila has administrative control over Thitu – the second-largest naturally occurring landmass in the Spratly archipelago – and wants to bolster its sovereignty by adding new infrastructure. In doing so it will be following in the footsteps of China, which also stakes ownership claims to the Spratlys – along with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam – and has even built artificial islands to serve as military outposts.

DOT: International tourist arrivals surpass 5-M mark philstar.com 14th Oct 2019
The Department of Tourism reported that the international tourist arrivals in the Philippines breached the five-million mark in August. The DOT recorded a total of 5,554,950 foreign tourist arrivals from January to August this year. The number of inbound foreign guests was a 14.08-percent increase from the 4,869,417 tourists in the same period last year. Data from the DOT Office of Tourism Planning, Research and Information Management showed that for August alone, a total of 702,843 visitors arrived in the country. The August record is 27.54-percent higher than the 551,088 guests in the same month in 2018. The DOT is pleased with the arrival growth as it is closer to its target of 8.2 million foreign tourist arrivals for 2019. The Tourism department recorded more than 4.1 million foreign tourists for the first half of 2019.

Guimaras told to turn to agriculture as tourism drops 74% in August | BusinessWorld Business World 10th Oct 2019
ILOILO CITY — Local government units (LGUs) in Guimaras have been advised to develop agriculture for the time being pending the resolution of disrupted boat service to the island province which caused tourist arrivals to drop 74% in August. Department of Tourism (DoT)-Western Visayas Regional Director Helen J. Catalbas offered the department’s help in marketing Guimaras produce in Iloilo. On Aug. 3, three boats sank in bad weather in the Iloilo Strait, leading to the imposition of restrictions on the ferry services that the island depends on. The restrictions include limited hours of operation, which has made day trips less manageable and put visitors at risk of missing their return trips to the Panay mainland.

Philippines wants to attract more cruise ships to its ports The Straits Times 8th Oct 2019
The Philippines, a country of 7,000 islands where you're rarely more than a few miles from the sea, wants a bigger slice of Asia's growing cruise-tourism industry. For years the South-east Asian nation has lagged behind its neighbours in attracting cruise visitors, partly because of spotty infrastructure. That's bound to change as more ports are built and officials look at cruise tourism as a key source of arrivals. With the economy in danger of notching its slowest expansion since 2011, tourism is emerging as a key focus of efforts to boost growth.

Cebu City to host farm tourism conference BusinessMirror 5th Oct 2019
THE Queen City of the South takes center stage once more as the country’s leading farm tourism practitioners and stakeholders gather for the 6th Farm Tourism Conference at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, Cebu City, from November 6 to 8. Themed “Building Community Relationship for Sustainable Development of Farm Tourism,” the event is hosted by the City Government of Cebu, and is co-organized by the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) and the Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations Specialists Inc. (Catos), with the support of the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

On Senate prodding, DOT says will regulate AirBnbs - Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo BusinessMirror 1st Oct 2019
THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is looking to regulate AirBnb facilities. DOT officials made this commitment at the agency’s budget hearing at the Senate on Monday. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat told the BusinessMirror, “We need a national law [to regulate AirBnbs]. Senators [Richard] Gordon and [Nancy] Binay instructed us to draft a law regarding AirBnbs.” Gordon is a former tourism secretary, while Binay chairs the Senate Tourism committee. She added that the regulation of AirBnbs can also be accomplished via local ordinance, which will be faster to accomplish. “This will enable us to get more accurate data regarding how many AirBnbs we actually have,” she noted, as their owners will need to get business permits and other licenses to operate their facilities from local government units.

Marriott International bullish on local growth | BusinessWorld Business World 25th Sep 2019
MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, Inc. is bullish on the Philippines’ tourism industry as it looks to have over 5,000 rooms in the country by 2024. Marriott International Asia Pacific President and Managing Director Craig S. Smith said they recently signed 14 projects which are now under construction, in addition to its four operating properties in the country. This translates to about 3,700 rooms.

The Philippines’ luxury tourist boom is fuelling violence against environmental activists The Independent 25th Sep 2019
In September 2017, local environmental activist Ruben Arzaga was shot dead while trying to confiscate illegally harvested timber on Palawan. Police detained two suspects known to be illegal loggers on suspicion of murder. According to a group of Palawan-based NGOs, Arzaga is one of 12 local environmentalists to have been murdered since 2004 for trying to protect the island’s forests against illegal logging, much of it to build luxury hotels aimed at wealthy tourists jetting in from Europe, the US and beyond.

Exporters turn to tourism services - Elijah Felice Rosales BusinessMirror 26th Aug 2019
EXPORTERS are shifting their focus to services trade, particularly in tourism, for the remainder of the year to make up for the sluggish performance of merchandise shipments. Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. disclosed on Friday that traders are looking to take advantage of the growing demand for tourism-related services to compensate for the lower requirement for merchandise goods. He said the sector grew around 35 percent between 2016 and 2017, twice the growth of the business-process outsourcing (BPO) industry during the period.

Singapore

Hotel supply to grow 2% in 2019 Singapore Business Review 14th Oct 2019
Expansion of Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa to boost the sector. The total existing hotel supply is anticipated to grow by 2% or an additional 1,400 rooms by the end of 2019, according to a report by JLL. There are currently over 68,000 hotel rooms in the city. The tourism sector in the city is expected to have a boost in the medium to long term, given the expansion of Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, the completion of an eco-tourism hub in Mandai by 2023, and the development of the Greater Southern Waterfront announced August that will include private and public accommodations, offices, entertainment attractions and resort.

Singapore asks NS Govt to open tourism, trade office in republic Edgeprop.my 14th Oct 2019
Singapore has asked the Negeri Sembilan (NS) State Government to set up a tourism and trade office in the republic, said Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun. He said the matter was raised during a closed-door meeting with Singapore Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, here the day before yesterday. "We welcome the offer, but we need a thorough study to see if it really brings benefits, we will take up the opportunity. This matter needs to be explored," he told a press conference after chairing the State Executive Council meeting here yesterday.

Co-living hotel to open in Singapore Travel Daily 10th Oct 2019
Katrina Group has announced the launch of the first affordable line of co-living hotels in Singapore. Introduced through its hospitality arm, ST Hospitality Group, the Chinatown co-living hotel will be followed by a rollout in Singapore and the Asia Pacific region. This marks Katrina Group’s first major expansion after the acquisition of Straits Organisation. Alan Goh Keng Chian, founder and CEO of Katrina Group said: “The launch of ST Signature Chinatown is part of our growth strategy to create a strong hospitality brand in the region.” Driven by the millennial demographic, there is strong growth in the co-living market in Asia. According to a recent report by real estate consultancy JLL co-living is gaining traction in the continent, especially in markets with high or rising real estate costs. Identifying the growing opportunity, Straits Organisation now has a growing portfolio of over 600 serviced apartment units in Singapore and Hong Kong, and four additional co-living hotels in the pipeline for Singapore. The group will be rolling out the rest of the ST Signature line in the country within the next 12 months.

ANALYSIS: Singapore Airlines continues to dominate US flights Flightglobal.com 8th Oct 2019
Singapore Airlines (SIA) is the current title holder of the world’s longest flight – the 19h Singapore-Newark – which has helped it reach near-monopoly status on the Singapore-USA market. The Star Alliance carrier has four non-stop, ultra-long-haul flights to the USA under its belt, along with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and most recently, Seattle. Ranging from 16h to 19h, these are some of the world’s longest flights. Its only direct competition in the non-stop market is Star partner United Airlines on the San Francisco route using Boeing 787-9s. SIA also flies one-stop services to Houston, New York JFK, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is now the sole carrier to do so, after Delta Air Lines ceased its Singapore connections from Narita in September. But history shows that this market dominance has not come easy – nor cheaply – for SIA.

World News Day: Health Ministry clamps down on medical tourism in public hospitals The Straits Times 28th Sep 2019
The Ministry of Health (MOH) issued the order after The Sunday Times published a report about the connection between hospitals such as National University (NUH), Singapore General (SGH) and Changi General (CGH) and these agents. MOH told The Sunday Times following the report in September last year that the priority of public healthcare institutions was to serve Singaporeans' healthcare needs. While foreign agents were not tasked with marketing hospital services and served mainly to facilitate visits by foreign patients, the ministry said it wanted hospitals to cease such contracts, "to avoid potential misinterpretation and misrepresentation". Foreign patients did not get subsidies and could be charged a premium for procedures performed by senior doctors, so agents' fees, as a percentage of the total bill, could be very lucrative.

Tourists in Singapore grumble, and cough, over haze NST Online 20th Sep 2019
In 2014, the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading – which has been replaced by the 1-hour PM2.5 concentration reading – hit a high of 129 at 9pm on race day. The following year, the haze situation abated a day before the race, and it took place with the air quality at the higher end of the “moderate” range. This year, the three-day race will start today (Aug 20). In its advisory on Thursday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said that the air quality has “improved gradually” for the day due to stronger winds blowing from the south-east that helped to disperse the haze away from Singapore. As of 10pm on Thursday, the 24-hour PSI reading was in the “moderate” range of 92 in the southern region, 87 in the east, 89 in the west, 83 in the central region and 84 in the north.

Technology, tourism among areas of interest in strengthening Singapore-India ties: DPM Heng CNA 5th Oct 2019
Technology is one of the areas in which Singapore and India can work on together closely, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Friday (Oct 4). Mr Heng was speaking to the media following his four-day visit to India, during which he met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman, and Minister of Railways and Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal. “I think the advances in the fourth industrial revolution, and in particular in the digital revolution, have very significant impact on many different industry sectors and spheres of activity,” he said.

Tourist spending down 4.8% in Q1, even as arrivals grew 1% The Straits Times 5th Aug 2019
Visitors to the Republic spent less in the first quarter of this year on the back of global economic uncertainties, but the same period saw a 1 per cent uptick in tourist arrivals year on year to reach 4.7 million. Tourism spending was $6.5 billion between January and March, a 4.8 per cent decline compared to the same period in 2018, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said in its quarterly report on Monday (Aug 5). Visitors spent less on shopping (down 7 per cent), accommodation (down 12 per cent), food and beverage (down 7 per cent) and sightseeing, entertainment and gaming (down 3 per cent).

Thailand

Tourism Authority of Thailand launches regional campaign Marketing Interactive 10th Oct 2019
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Bangkok Airways have launched a new “Fly me to Thailand” campaign, offering privileges, gift cards, discounts for travellers from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam as well as Malaysia, Singapore and India. Klissada Ratanapruk, TAT executive director, ASEAN South Asia and South Pacific Region said, “Thailand is entering this year’s high season from October. So it is an opportune time to offer special privileges for tourists from our neighbouring ASEAN countries as well as from our long-standing, short-haul friend, India. The special offers from operators of tourism products and services across the country will also help enhance the awareness of the amazing variety of Thai travel experiences.”

Operators lukewarm on tourism scheme Bangkok Post 2nd Oct 2019
Tour operators have cast doubt on whether the government’s latest measures will effectively boost domestic tourism, citing the poor performance of the cash giveaway and rebate scheme. The 1,000-baht cash handout and 15% rebate scheme, which began Monday, was intended to revive stagnant tourism but is unlikely to benefit local tourism and community shops as planned, said Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Thai Federation of Provincial Tourist Associations.

Economic ministers to discuss tourism, exports at Oct 7 meeting The Nation Thailand 2nd Oct 2019
The council of economic ministers will meet on October 7 to discuss the current economic situation and also seek solutions for obstacles facing the tourism industry, Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy secretary-general to the prime minister for political affairs, said. The ministers will also discuss the country’s export situation, he added.

Cabinet OKs new perks for tourism Bangkok Post 14th Oct 2019
The economic cabinet on Friday approved a new round of tourism measures, aiming for the number of foreign visitors to reach 39.8 million and generate 2.04 trillion baht this year. Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy secretary-general to prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for political affairs, said the new tourism stimulus measures cover both short-term measures for this year and some for 2020. They will be submitted for cabinet approval next week. The government also set a target to attract 41.8 million foreign visitors and generate 2.2 trillion baht in tourism revenue next year.

Thailand to demand proof of health insurance for 'risky' long-term visitors euronews 9th Oct 2019
Foreigners in the “risky” over-50 age group will have to present proof of health insurance when applying for Thai long-term non-immigrant visas, a minister said on Wednesday, so the government doesn’t have to pick up their medical bills. The rule takes effect at the end of the month to ensure the visitors can afford treatment during a maximum one-year stay and the government does not have to foot the bill, Sathit Pitutecha, deputy minister of public health, told Reuters.

Thailand calling Bangkok Post 8th Oct 2019
The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects 2 million Indian tourists to visit the country this year after noting strong year-on-year growth of 24.5% to 1.14 million arrivals in the first seven months. Arrivals last year totalled 1.59 million, up 13% from the year before. Indians also spend an average of 11% more per trip than other foreign tourists, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry. Indian arrivals started to really take off last year, helping to offset the decline in the number of Chinese tourists that began in mid-2018 following a boating tragedy off Phuket and continued for several months.

TAT to focus on enticing Thais to holiday in the Kingdom The Nation Thailand 8th Oct 2019
Based on the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s finding that reservations from Thai International Travel Fairs show over 12 million Thai people will travel outside the country from the New Year to the Songkran festival next year, the agency is accelerating two tourism support strategies to entice people to explore their own Kingdom. With the baht strengthening from the beginning of the year to October and remaining at Bt30.53 per US dollar, many airlines in Thailand have opened multiple new international routes for this year’s fourth quarter. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for Thai hotel operators to look to expanding their international hotels, the authority said.

Phuket launches initiative to become smarter and safer Bangkok Post 6th Oct 2019
Phuket launches initiative to become smarter and safer The boat accident in July last year that killed 47 Chinese tourists has left a scar on the sunny image of Phuket, and raised questions as to whether the famous tourist city is safe for tourists and residents alike. If the tragic accident has any plus side, it is that the local authority woke up to the need to improve city safety and surveillance. One initiative to have arisen after the disaster has been christened the "Smart City & Safe City" project, an urban monitoring scheme that makes use of big data and IoT (Internet of Things) technology to improve safety.

Govt considers expanding limits on ‘Eat, Shop, Spend’ scheme The Nation Thailand 2nd Oct 2019
Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs Somkid Jatusripitak said on Monday (September 30) that the government is considering expanding the 10-million participants limit in the “Eat, Shop, Spend” scheme as the campaign has earned an overwhelming response. The Finance Ministry will also look into the possibility of boosting the Bt19-billion budget.

Tourism to surge in Phuket during vegetarian festival Bangkok Post 2nd Oct 2019
Despite the strong value of the Thai baht, an upcoming vegetarian festival in Phuket is expected to attract a large number of Chinese tourists and bring the resort island province about 2 billion baht in tourism-related revenue, said the Phuket Tourist Association, the province's main association relating to tourism business operators. The vegetarian festival, which will run from Saturday until Oct 7, will draw a large number of Chinese tourists since this period coincides with celebrations of China's national day, said association president Bhummikitti Ruktaengam on Friday. 

The Baht Is ‘Frightening’ Thailand’s Tourism Industry Bloomberg 30th Sep 2019
The strength of the baht is the biggest impediment to wooing more holidaymakers, the Tourism Council of Thailand said Monday. It revised down its estimate for foreign tourist numbers to 39.7 million this year, from an earlier projection of more than 40 million. “It’s frightening to see the baht so close to 30 to a dollar,” Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, president of the council, said in a briefing in Bangkok. “It’s the key reason for arrivals and receipts growth being lower than expected.” Tourism accounts for a about a fifth of Thai gross domestic product. Chinese visitors are key and topped 1 million in August for the first time in six months. But the currency makes it difficult to say a revival is definitely underway, according to the council.

Deputy PM, Tourism Minister approve 90-day, visa-free stays for American, Japanese medical tourists The Phuket News 30th Sep 2019
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who also serves as Deputy Prime Minister, and Tourism & Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitparkarn approved in principle the inclusion of the United States and Japan in the 90-day medical treatment visa-waiver program, reported state news agency NNT. The inclusion of the two countries brought the total number of nations in the scheme to 13 >the other 11 are the Gulf Cooperation Council countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and China. Mr Anutin confirmed yesterday (Sept 29) that the government is focused on the promotion of innovation and medical excellence, as well as health-related tourism, to add economic value, the NNT report said.

Somkid: Extend tourism scheme Bangkok Post 30th Sep 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has suggested the government’s 1,000-baht cash giveaway and 15% cash rebate scheme be extended until the end of the year to boost consumers’ consumption and year-end tourism. Mr Somkid said on Monday the scheme, if extended, will help stimulate tourism in the country during the final quarter, typically the high season. This will help offset a slowdown in foreign tourist arrivals, especially from China. “The Finance Ministry should study the possibility of increasing the budget and duration of the scheme,” he said. “The ministry needs to determine what kind of budget would be needed to subsidise the scheme.” The cash handout and cash rebate are part of the government’s 316-billion-baht stimulus package, which aims to boost economic growth to at least 3% this year after the economy posted 2.3% growth year-on-year in the second quarter and 2.8% in the first.

Arrivals projection cut amid global slowdown, high baht Bangkok Post 30th Sep 2019
The Tourism Council of Thailand has cut the projection for tourist arrivals this year to 39.7 million from 40.1 million, as a result of the global economic slowdown and the strong baht. The projection for tourism revenue has been reduced to 1.95 trillion baht from 2.13 trillion previously. Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the sector is still wounded by the US-China trade war and the baht's appreciation, which have deterred foreigners from visiting Thailand. The government’s tourism stimulus plans are likely to improve local tourism, he said.

TAT ratchets up campaigns in bid to meet trips target Bangkok Post 18th Sep 2019
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has stepped up marketing plans for the final quarter this year with the aim of boosting domestic tourism and reaching 170 million trips as targeted this year. Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said two new campaigns will be implemented after receiving cabinet endorsement next week: "Visit Thailand With 100 Baht" and "Shocking Weekday Travel". He said tourists will enjoy heavy discounts and deals on tourism services under the campaigns, which will extend through the fourth quarter.

World Heritage help sought Bangkok Post 16th Sep 2019
Phuket Old Town needs more support from the government to be prepared for evaluation as a World Heritage Site, as the Fine Arts Department plans to submit the city to Unesco for the 2020 list. Don Limnunthaphisit, president of the Phuket Old Town tourism community, said the city would like to receive a rolling budget each year to support renovations, as do Penang and Malacca, cities in Malaysia on the World Heritage List. The town does get some funding from the government, but the community is still responsible for most aspects of the renovation process and volunteer efforts may not be enough to achieve World Heritage Site status.

August foreign tourist arrivals up 5.6% y-o-y Bangkok Post 10th Sep 2019
The number of foreign tourists arriving in Thailand rose 5.59% in August from a year earlier, with Chinese visitor numbers rebounding strongly, the tourism ministry said on Tuesday. The 3.41 million foreign arrivals in August spent 170 billion baht up 7.12% year-on-year, the ministry said in a statement after a cabinet meeting. The number of Chinese tourists, the kingdom’s biggest source of visitors, jumped 15.6% in August from a year earlier to 1 million, after increasing 5.81% in July following five months of declines.

Sustainability made priority Bangkok Post 10th Sep 2019
The Tourism and Sports Ministry is set to build awareness among Thais about sustainable tourism after the country's environmental management for natural resources was ranked poorly by a global agency. The World Economic Forum's recent Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019 ranked Thailand 31st out of 140 countries globally, up from 34th in 2017. But in the environmental sustainability category, Thailand dropped to 130th from 122nd. For this category, Thailand received 3.6 out of seven points this year, an incremental rise from 3.57 two years ago.

Ministry postpones levy on foreign visitors Bangkok Post 9th Sep 2019
The Tourism and Sports Ministry has decided to delay plans to collect a tourism levy from foreign visitors. Last Wednesday, permanent tourism secretary Chote Trachu said the levy could result in psychological deterrence among foreign visitors and further harm the stagnant sector. In May, Mr Chote announced that the ministry had studied the feasibility of collecting a tourism levy from foreign visitors and using the income to rehabilitate natural destinations. He hinted that the tax amount would be minimal and not affect visitors.

Ride-sharing firms 'to be legal by March' Bangkok Post 6th Sep 2019
Transport Ministry drafting rules to bring Grab and peers into line with local regulations The Transport Ministry has drafted guidelines to regulate ride-hailing companies and aims to legalise the services by March next year, according to Jirut Wisarnjit, the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary. Ride-sharing services for years have existed in a legal grey area locally, with police routinely stopping and fining drivers because they are not properly registered.

Plans to streamline tourism handout Bangkok Post 4th Sep 2019
The Comptroller-General's Department plans to streamline the registration process to attract merchants to participate in the 1,000-baht cash giveaway as well as the 15% rebate for travel to destinations outside home provinces as the participation level is below 50%. Interested merchants will be allowed to use the application issued by the department and signed by state agencies, instead of a confirmation letter to verify their identity, a move to facilitate shops intending to participate in the scheme, said Suttirat Rattanachot, director-general of the department.

Dasta backs handout scheme Bangkok Post 2nd Sep 2019
The Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) is urging local communities to join the 1,000-baht cash handout scheme for local tourists. The scheme allows for travel to both big and small cities, raising concerns among communities about whether the policy would efficiently distribute income to rural areas, said Thaweebhong Wichaidit, Dasta's director-general.

Tourism Department mulls minimum prices for tour packages Bangkok Post 27th Aug 2019
The Tourism Department is planning to set minimum prices for outbound tour packages to deal with the growing price war that could eventually lower service quality. Taweesak Wanichcharoen, director-general of the department, said minimum prices for outbound services is allowed under the Tourism Business and Guide Act 2008, but it has not been enforced seriously. He said the department is considering standardising the business with minimum prices set for each region, such as Europe, America and Asia. However, it is considering excluding China as the market is huge and need a ranges of tour prices.

AoT unveils airport app for global travellers Bangkok Post 22nd Aug 2019
Airports of Thailand (AoT) on Wednesday launched a mobile app designed to improve convenience for travellers. The AOT Digital Airports app can be downloaded on both smartphones and computers. It can be used to access information about AoT airports and 16 partners around the world, including Munich and Narita airports. AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said the app is linked to the airports' information technology systems.

Tourism boss snips 2019 foreign arrivals Bangkok Post 22nd Aug 2019
The Tourism and Sports Ministry has cut its foreign arrivals forecast to 39-39.8 million this year, down from 40.2 million. Affected by global tension, Thai tourism in the first half this year saw foreign arrivals grow only 1.4% to 19.7 million, prompting the ministry to shave its target in July from 41.3 million to 40.2 million. Tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said he is confident the new projection is achievable as the government has been working to offer incentives to foreign visitors.

Airports upgrade plan now includes minister's home province Bangkok Post 21st Aug 2019
Airports of Thailand has changed its regional airport takeover and development plan to include the transport minister's home province, Buriram. The expansion of Suvarnabhumi airport will also be accelerated. AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said on Wednesday that the agency would take over and upgrade Krabi airport in the South, Buriram and UdonThani in the Northeast, and Tak in the North. They are presently operated by the Department of Airports. This was a change from the earlier plan to increase air traffic capacity in the North and the South, he said.

Cabinet blocks visa plan Bangkok Post 21st Aug 2019
The cabinet yesterday shot down the Tourism and Sports Ministry's visa waiver proposal for Chinese and Indian visitors but agreed to extend the waiver of visa-on-arrival fees for tourists from 18 countries for another six months. Speaking after a cabinet meeting which approved a 316-billion-baht economic stimulus package covering subsidies for the poor, domestic tour incentives and soft loans for farmers, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the cabinet did not take up the visa waiver proposal for consideration due to concerns raised by several agencies. The cabinet decided to extend the waiver of visa-on-arrival fees for 18 countries for another six months, or until April next year. The current fee waiver programme for these nations was due to end on Oct 31.

Boost to infrastructure stressed in ways to grow Thai tourism The Nation Thailand 20th Aug 2019
Thailand must thrash out a master plan to modernise its travel and tourism infrastructure for continuous growth in its tourism revenue in the next decade, according to report released today(August 20) by travel technology company Amadeus in partnership with Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). Thailand’s travel and tourism sector grew by 6 per cent last year.    However, according to the ‘Thailand Towards 2030: Future of Travel & Tourism’ report, a number of the country’s airports are approaching capacity and popular destinations are starting to show the impact of ‘over’ tourism, both of which could limit the rate of future tourism growth if not urgently addressed. 

Ministry readies handouts to kick-start domestic tourism Bangkok Post 16th Aug 2019
The government is ready to spend lavishly on domestic tourism handouts, hoping to stir the economy in the final four months of the year. While waiting for remedies from the Finance Ministry to deal with the strong currency, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the ministry is polishing its final draft proposals to boost domestic tourism. Officials expect to spend 15 billion baht for three projects set to run from September to December.

Ministry's new safety guidelines aim to reassure travellers Bangkok Post 13th Aug 2019
The Tourism and Sports Ministry has outlined new tourism safety guidelines to beef up confidence among tourists. The set of safety rules cover four areas: accidents; life and property protection, which includes crimes and overcharging; sanitation; and uncontrollable situations such as natural disasters and riots, said Anan Wongbenjarat, deputy permanent tourism secretary. He said drafted guidelines will be tabled for the National Tourism Policy Committee before seeking approval from the cabinet.

TAT and startups put focus on Nordic market Bangkok Post 6th Aug 2019
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is collaborating with 24 high-potential Thai startups to break into the Nordic market. The TAT office in Stockholm initiated a project called "Bringing the New Shades of Thailand to Nordic Travellers", hoping startups can expand the Thai tourism market in four countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the first phase of the project will be moved forward from October to open a new vision of tourism focused on journeys, experiential tourism, gastronomy, wellness and spas, as well as sports in Thailand.

Vietnam

Tourism to develop in accordance with advanced techonology Viet Nam News 4th Oct 2019
In the near future, the Vietnamese tourism industry will develop alongside the development of technology, thanks to a deal the Việt Nam National Tourism Administration (VNAT) has agreed with the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The VNAT signed an agreement with the e-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency on Friday to apply advanced technology and e-commerce to develop tourism. The move will allow people to book tours on a mobile app, said Hà Văn Siêu, vice chairman of the VNAT.

HCM City eyes smart tourism development Vietnam News Agency 9th Sep 2019
Smart tourism needs to be a component of HCM City’s smart city master plan, its Party Committee secretary has said. Nguyễn Thiện Nhân, speaking at an international conference on smart tourism development in the city on Saturday, said HCM City had announced a master plan which envisages its entire urban landscape becoming ‘smart’. The city’s tourism sector needs to co-design a smart city infostructure with facilities creating better tourism experiences and increases the competitiveness of the tourism sector, he said.

Deputy PM approves extension of tourist-car service via border Vietnam News Agency 23rd Aug 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Phạm Bình Minh has given the green light to extend a pilot project of tourist cars in the north-eastern province of Quảng Ninh until June 30 next year. The pilot project, which allowed tourist cars between Việt Nam’s Móng Cái City and China’s Dongxing City, has been implemented by the provincial People’s Committee since 2016. Until the beginning of 2018, people have been permitted to drive the tourist cars to Hạ Long City, the online newspaper Voice of Việt Nam reported. It is estimated that about 1,580 passengers with 530 tourist cars immigrated and then exited via the Móng Cái International Border Gate since 2016 under tight supervision of the committee to ensure safety for passengers and security for the locality.