Travel and Tourism Update: February 19, 2020

Travel and Tourism Update | February 19, 2020
Authors: Shay Wester, Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Steven Gunawan, Julianne Alberto
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

March 3-5: 2020 Vietnam Business Mission US-ABC will organize our 2020 Business Mission to Vietnam from March 3-5. Registration is currently open. For more information, please contact Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org.

March 26-27: 2020 Mission to the ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting Register for the mission here. Please contact Michaela Wong at mwong@usasean.org with any questions.

March 31-April 4: ASEAN Tourism Committee Meetings Please note the tentative dates as announced on the ASEAN Notational Calendar. This event will be in Jakarta, Indonesia.

May 20-22: 2020 Philippines Business Mission US-ABC will organize our 2020 Business Mission to the Philippines. Please save the dates. Registration details to be announced.

July 5-7: ASEAN National Tourism Organizations Meetings Please note the tentative dates. This event will be in Banyuwangi, Indonesia.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Spread of COVID-19 affects ASEAN countries

The novel coronavirus (renamed COVID-19) that was first detected in China have impacted the economies in the ASEAN region, especially in retail, restaurants, conferences, and tourism as the region depends heavily on the trade and tourism flows with China. Moreover, the holiday hotspots in the region were hit thereby losing business amounting to billions from Chinese tourists.

As a response to the outbreak, the foreign ministers of China and ASEAN Member States will have an emergency conference (The Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Coronavirus Disease) on February 20 in Laos to improve coordination among the countries to combat the virus – which will be the first large multilateral summit since the beginning  of the crisis. As of February 19, 2020, ASEAN countries have so far reported these numbers and responses with respect to the spread of COVID-19:

Brunei – 0 confirmed; 158 from China under self-quarantine

Latest travel warning/ ban:  Zhejiang and Jiangsu (banned)

The government has identified four potential quarantine sites for suspected COVID-19 cases. Visitors from Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces are barred except for citizens and permanent residents. Those from China are to observe self-quarantine. The tourism sector affected comprises around 15% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Cambodia – 1 confirmed

Latest travel warning/ ban:  N/A

In January, Cambodia has seen a 10% drop in travelers. Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has expressed its confidence in China’s ability to resolve the situation. The government will not suspend flights to and from China, nor will it evacuate nationals currently in China. However, all trade in wild animals are suspended. One of the bold measures taken by the government was to allow Westerdam – a cruise ship that carried hundreds of passengers – to disembark in Cambodia on February 14 after being turned away by four other countries. However, it was later found out that one of the former passengers tested positive for the COVID-19.

Indonesia – 0 confirmed in-country

Latest travel warning/ ban:  China (banned)

Airline travel between Indonesia and China was suspended on February 5. Before that, Bali had 134 flights a week coming in from China. Despite having three laboratories capable of testing for the COVID-19 and no reported cases in Indonesia, more than 40,000 hotel bookings made by visitors to Bali, the nation’s prime destination, were affected. Moreover, 238 citizens who evacuated from Wuhan to Indonesia’s Natuna Islands were quarantined and thereafter, have been released. Placement companies stopped sending workers to mainland China.

Laos – 0 confirmed; 2 suspected cases

Latest travel warning/ ban:  China (limited)

The Government set a ceiling for the prices of facemasks. The borders with China and Myanmar were sealed off. Lao Airlines flights to China are suspended. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised citizens to avoid traveling to countries where the virus is spreading. There has been 40% hotel booking cancellations.

Malaysia – 22 confirmed; 19 discharged

Latest travel warning/ ban:  China (limited)

The Malaysian and Singaporean Health Ministries have partnered in response. The Malaysian government has an economic stimulus package meant to help the retail, aviation, and tourism industries. There is a 14-day self-quarantine requirement for visitors from Singapore. There is a limited travel ban for flights coming in from Hubei, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu. Citizens in China are being evacuated. Penang’s tourism industry reported a 40% drop in tourists’ arrivals from China.

Myanmar – 0 confirmed; 8 suspected cases

Latest travel warning/ ban:  China (limited)

The Ministry of Health is preparing funding to buy additional equipment, medicine, and protective gear. Travel to China by government officials is restricted; there is a ban on entry for those coming in from China. There are checks conducted at the border.

Philippines – 1 death; 3 confirmed cases; 137 persons under investigation; 330 discharged

Latest travel warning/ ban:  China, Hong Kong, and Macau

There is a travel ban to and from China, Hong Kong, and Macau, but Filipino workers traveling to Hong Kong and Macau are allowed to return if they execute written declarations regarding the risk of traveling. There was an earlier ban imposed for Taiwan, but it was lifted. 30 Filipinos were evacuated from Wuhan. 36 Filipinos have tested positive for the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The tourism industry could lose US$849.8 billion (P42.9 billion) in revenue from February until April. To recoup the loss, the government and tourism players launched a travel campaign led by the Department of Tourism.

Singapore – 84 confirmed; 34 recovered

Latest travel warning/ ban: Visitors who traveled to China in the last 14 days

Health alert is raised to orange (outbreak is deemed to have moderate to high public health impact, though the situation is still under control). There is an entry ban to all visitors who traveled to China in the last 14 days. Singapore Airlines has cut flights across its global network. Singapore’s 2020 budget includes S$4 billion (US$2.8 billion) to support the economy. The city-state is losing about 18,000 to 20,000 tourists a day. In 2019, 3.6 million Chinese visitors spent US$2.3 billion (S$3.2 billion) in Singapore. According to Singapore Tourism Board, the industry is bracing for impact that could be worse than SARS in 2003.

Thailand – 35 confirmed; 130 suspected; 674 discharged

Latest travel warning/ ban:  N/A

The government evacuated 138 citizens from Wuhan. There is an advisory to avoid all non-essential travel to China. Officials will establish special clinics to examine people with symptoms of influenza. Thailand will implement measures including extending the deadline for tax payments from March to June, reducing the rate of excise tax on jet fuel, and tax reductions for organizing seminars in the country. Destinations like Phuket has reported some hotels having up to 100% cancellation rates. Thailand has forecast an 80% drop in Chinese tourists and a loss of around US$3.03 billion (95 billion Baht) between February and April.

Vietnam – 16 confirmed; 23 quarantined; 7 recovered

Latest travel warning/ ban:  China

Flights to mainland China have been suspended. There is a ban on entry of visitors who have been in China within the past 14 days. Returning nationals are quarantined. Vietnam's tourism industry could lose up to $7.7 billion in the first three months due to cancellations of Chinese tours and a general downturn in domestic travelers and international arrivals. Currently, Vietnam has also simplified visa procedures for some non-Chinese arrivals to boost its tourism industry.

For live updates by country, please check https://www.aseanbriefing.com/news/coronavirus-asia-asean-live-updates-by-country/.

Singapore moves to assist tourism-related businesses with relief package amidst virus

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announced that as part of its efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on tourism dependent businesses, the Singapore government will waive license fees for hotels, travel agents, and tourist guides, and it will defray higher cleaning costs of hotels that provided accommodation to both confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases. As of February 19, Singapore has 81 confirmed cases. 34 have recovered.

Singapore, a country which welcomed 3.6 million Chinese visitors in 2019, is currently imposing a travel ban as a response to the virus. The STB dialogued with its tourism partners to understand the specific challenges of the industry and to identify the support which the industry needs given the current situation.

Hotels that provided accommodations to confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases can get an assistance of up to 50% of cleaning fees capped at S$20,000 (US$14,330) per establishment (for confirmed cases) and S$10,000 (US$7,169)per establishment (for suspected cases). Hotel licensing fees have been waived by the Hotels Licensing Board for the rest of 2020. Similarly, 2020 renewal fees for travel agents and tourist guides have been waived. Additionally, a S$77 million (US$55.4 million) support package to help taxi and private-hire car drivers affected was announced by the Land Transport Authority and Ministry of Transport. An overall package of relief measures was included in the 2020 budget announced last February 18.

Thailand Tourism Forum 2020 highlights necessity for diversification, sustainability

Thailand’s 2020 Tourism Forum held last January 27 highlighted the necessity to diversify source markets and products to keep the industry sustainable. Jesper Palmqvist of STR Singapore, spoke about big data and tourism industry and described that while the number of hotel rooms are increasing, the demand is plateauing. This poses a challenge for Thailand to look into ways on how to grow the industry. STR data reveals that 2019 saw a 5.6% decline in revenue per available room statistics, with some areas like Krabi and Samui experiencing a decrease of 18.3% and 12.8% respectively. It was also suggested how niche tourism can help achieve sustainable growth which is well in line with the world’s top social and traveler trends.

The Forum highlighted how the 40 million international visitor national target will result in the industry’s causing its own degradation. The influx of tourists comes with the price of having to maintain the very environment they’ve come to see. Bill Barnett of C0 Hotelworks reminded attendees that Thailand should be aware of the alarm bells confronting the supply. World renowned architect Bill Bensley meanwhile emphasized the importance of the industry learning from nature. The hotel industry in Thailand has recently had a surge, there being 50,000 new hotel rooms with 15,000 located in Bangkok alone.

The Forum was organized by the American Chamber of Commerce – Thailand (AMCHAM) and C9 Hotelworks Hospitality Consulting Group participated by roughly a thousand people from the tourism and hospitality industries. There were twelve presentations from speakers all coming from the private sector in Thailand and Asia. Ahead of the forum, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced that it is expecting 3.18 trillion Baht (US$102 billion) in overall tourism revenue for Thailand in 2020, or a 4% year-on-year increase from 2019. The Thai government has launched 16 tourism stimulus measures, aimed at stimulating more inbound travel. Projections may need to be reconsidered due to the ongoing concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn expects tourist arrivals to plunge by 50% in the first half of 2020 because of the virus outbreak.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Asean nations and China to meet over Covid-19 in Laos

Brunei
Brunei sets up 4 temporary shelters to combat coronavirus spread
Temburong Bridge inspires new tourism investments in Brunei | TTG Asia
Brunei among low risk countries for travelers, says report
Brunei-China Year of Tourism 2020 launched
Asean meet in Brunei calls for smart tourism initiatives

Cambodia
Cambodia Confirms First Coronavirus Case
Cruise Ship Coronavirus Ordeal Ends with Cambodia Welcome
China and Cambodia: Love in the Time of Coronavirus
Malaysian firms keen in wastewater treatment and eco-tourism: Ambassador

Indonesia
Indonesia Traces Movements of Chinese Tourist With Coronavirus
Govt mulls incentives as tourism faces potential $2.8b loss from outbreak
Indonesia lures Australia to invest in '10 New Bali' tourist destinations

Laos
Laos Stays Corona-free, but Virus Shakes Travel Trade
Laos Suspends Visas at Checkpoints Bordering China
Xayaboury set to become new transit hub
Travel company gets nod to assess proposed eco-tourism project in Vientiane
China’s Trip.com and Laos strengthen tourism cooperation
Finnish and Danish travellers decreased in Laos in 2019
Laos claws back tourist arrivals
Laos' foreign tourist arrivals up 9 pct in 2019

Malaysia
Hotels in Malaysia report loss of RM40m in revenue due to Wuhan virus
Malaysia's move to probe AirAsia rattles investors
Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a bane to VM2020
Ministry to keep close watch on influenza cases to ensure tourism is not affected
Influenza situation in Malaysia not linked to outbreak in Wuhan, says Health D-G
Digi, partners to launch Malaysia's first 5G virtual tourism experience

Myanmar
Myanmar sees world’s fastest tourism growth
Myanmar Officials, Ethnic Leaders Monitor China Border for Coronavirus

Philippines
PHL tourism to lose P23 billion a month due to COVID-19 
OFWs, Filipino students may return to Hong Kong, Macau
Philippines rolls out tourism push to make up for lost Chinese visitors
International tourist arrivals hit 8.26 million
TSA cites improved security at Manila international airport
‘Virus may cost 95,000 jobs in tourism sector’
Tourism losses seen to hit P70 billion as nCoV lingers
U.S. embassy in PH denies suspending visa applications
DoT, Boracay hotel sector to plan room discounts for domestic market as Chinese tourists drop
Philippines confirms 3rd case of novel coronavirus
Dominguez sees temporary strain on exports, tourism
Tourism promotions body optimistic on new leadership
Transport safety agency seen improving confidence in travel, boosting tourism
538 Filipinos onboard quarantined Japanese cruise ship
‘Motorcycle taxis need to be legalized before anti-trust review’
’19 nCoV travel ban could spell P27-B loss for tourism sectors 
Ilocos Sur cruise port now in use; formal inauguration this month 
Direct flights to regional airports driving tourist arrival targets 

Singapore
Singapore Airlines to cut flights as COVID-19 outbreak hits demand
Asian tourism capitals sweat over Chinese travel drought
Coronavirus Dents Singapore Arrivals By 20,000 Per Day
Singapore Braces for 30% Tourism Drop After Virus Outbreak
Singapore Braces as Coronavirus Cases Emerge in Finance Hub
Khaw: Aviation sector will be hit harder than during Sars
Singapore raises risk alert to SARS level as coronavirus cases rise to 33
Coronavirus: Politicians, supermarkets urge calm amid panic-buying of groceries
Singapore Airshow to go ahead despite fewer exhibitors, with stepped-up coronavirus measures
NATAS postpones travel fair amid concerns that coronavirus outbreak will dampen turnout
Singapore and Malaysia tourism boards outline plans amidst coronavirus crisis

Thailand
Tourist arrivals to plunge 50% in first half of 2020
Phuket businesses seek B50bn in help
Chiang Mai reels under impact of new coronavirus as tourists stay away
Tourists Dwindle as Thailand Readies for Coronavirus Threat
Suvarnabhumi runway bids due next month

Vietnam
Vietnam strives to turn tourism into a key economic sector by 2030
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia confirmed as Vietnam F1’s supporting race
Vietnam postpones annual national tourism promotion over novel coronavirus
Vietnam promotes Vĩnh Long province as new tourism destination
Saigon Chinese-origin community festival recognized as national cultural heritage
Vietnam has additional 11 national intangible cultural heritages
Tours connected to swift raising villages in Kien Giang
Uncover the charms of Mekong Rustic
PM approves tourism development strategy by 2030
Vietnam’s upscale tourism on the rise
Orfarm opens agri tourism
Direct air route to facilitate Việt Nam-Czech relationship
Cruise ship arrivals to Vietnam pick up in 2020
Indian tourists to Vietnam increase
Hanoi hopes to welcome nearly 32 million tourists in 2020
Vietnam Int’l Travel Mart 2020 slated for April
Luxury hotel segment sees sharp expansion
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Asean nations and China to meet over Covid-19 in Laos Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 19th Feb 2020
A special meeting on Covid-19 will be held between China and Asean countries to discuss responses to the outbreak. The meeting, which will be attended by Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi and his counterparts from Asean nations, is scheduled to be held from tomorrow to Friday in Vientiane, Laos. Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Wang would talk about China’s “forceful measures” on countering the epidemic. Geng said the meeting would also explore ideas on the setting up of a long-term and effective collaboration mechanism on public health to safeguard the people in these regions.

Brunei

Brunei sets up 4 temporary shelters to combat coronavirus spread The Scoop 8th Feb 2020
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health have identified four sites that will potentially be turned into “monitoring centres” or temporary quarantine shelters for suspected coronavirus cases. No coronavirus cases have been recorded in Brunei thus far, but the country has stepped up precautionary measures including banning the entry of travellers from China’s Hubei province. All travellers returning from China have been ordered to undergo self-isolation for 14 days. 158 people are under self-quarantine in Brunei. Nineteen have already completed their isolation and been cleared –they comprise Bruneians studying in China, travellers as well as Hengyi Industries workers.

Temburong Bridge inspires new tourism investments in Brunei | TTG Asia TTG Asia 21st Jan 2020
The B$1.6 billion (US$1.2 billion) 30km Temburong bridge in Brunei that will link the capital Bandar Seri Begawan with the district is nearing completion. Once finished, the bridge will eliminate the need for travelers to pass through borders with the Malaysian state of Sarawak, reducing travel time from two hours to less than 30 minutes as it decreases the journey by 70km. Acting deputy director of Brunei Tourism’s tourism development department Salinah Selleh said that Brunei hopes “to see the bridge contribute to a rise in tourism. As well as international visitors, we hope it will lead to an increase in domestic tourism. Not a lot of locals have visited Temburong because it is not easily accessible.”

Brunei among low risk countries for travelers, says report Borneo Bulletin Online 20th Jan 2020
International SOS, a travel security services company based in the United Kingdom, has classified Brunei Darussalam’s travel security risk as “low” in its 2020 annual Travel Risk Map. The map ranks countries based on medical, security, and road safety, with five categories of risk: insignificant, low, medium, high, and extreme. Low Travel Security Risk indicates that violent crimes rates are low and racial, sectarian, or political violence or civil unrest is uncommon. The most dangerous countries on the Travel Risk Map include Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Sudan.

Brunei-China Year of Tourism 2020 launched Borneo Bulletin Online 18th Jan 2020
The joint tourism year initiative between Brunei Darussalam and the People’s Republic of China was officially launched on January 17th at the Arts Center of Jerudong International School. Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, officiated the event as the guest of honor. The Brunei-China Year of Tourism 2020 seeks to enhance tourism cooperation through people-to-people and cultural exchanges, as well as foster business and trade connections beyond tourism. Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong noted that China is one of the top source markets for tourist arrivals for Brunei, with 43,000 tourist arrivals by July 2019. The Minister also stated that he anticipates increased tourist traffic and economic growth between the two countries stemming from direct and increased air connectivity, as in the newly launched route of Royal Brunei Airlines to Beijing.

Asean meet in Brunei calls for smart tourism initiatives The Star Online 16th Jan 2020
At the 23rd ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF), which took place the week of January 13 in Brunei, Brunei’s Primary Resources and Tourism Minister Dato Seri Setia Awang Ali Haji Apong stated that ASEAN members had to work with business stakeholders and embrace new technology to meet the expectations of tourists. “Such advancements demand travel and tourism-related business owners to invest in digital presence, as it is no longer viable not to be seen online, to remain competitive and appealing to the next generation of travelers,” he said. During ATF 2020, in which approximately 1,000 tourism officials and exhibitors are expected to take part, ASEAN Tourism Ministers discussed the implementation of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2016-2025, the ASEAN Tourism Marketing Strategy 2017-2020, and ASEAN tourism performance in 2018 and 2019.

Cambodia

Cambodia Confirms First Coronavirus Case Voice of America 19th Feb 2020
The Cambodian Ministry of Health confirmed Monday evening the first case of the novel coronavirus in the country’s coastal province of Preah Sihanouk.   One male member of a Chinese family, which had flown into Sihanoukville from Wuhan, China, was confirmed infected with the virus, said Health Minister Mam Bunheng. Three other members of his family are currently under observation at the Preah Sihanouk Referral Hospital.  The family arrived in Cambodia on January 23 and the 60-year-old Chinese national Jia Jinhua started to show flu-like symptoms on January 25, while staying at a hotel in Sihanoukville, said the health minister.

Cruise Ship Coronavirus Ordeal Ends with Cambodia Welcome The Diplomat 14th Feb 2020
Hundreds of cruise ship passengers long stranded at sea by virus fears cheered as they finally disembarked Friday and were welcomed to Cambodia by the nation’s authoritarian leader who handed them flowers. Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to let the Westerdam dock at the port of Sihanoukville on Thursday after Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam had barred the ship earlier. The passengers cheered as they walked toward waiting buses and waved goodbye to other passengers watching from the ship’s deck.

China and Cambodia: Love in the Time of Coronavirus The Diplomat 6th Feb 2020
Amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, many countries are shutting down travel to and from China and warning their nationals to leave if possible. Cambodia, however, is taking the opposite approach. Prime Minister Hun Sen arrived in Beijing on Wednesday, making a highly public vote of confidence in China’s ability to control the epidemic. According to Xinhua, China’s state new agency, Hun Sen told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he had “decided to make a special visit to China with an aim to showcase Cambodia’s support to China in fighting the outbreak of the epidemic.” Chinese media repeatedly emphasized the “special” nature of Hun Sen’s visit, noting that he had decided to make the trip just before leaving — and presumably after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency.

Malaysian firms keen in wastewater treatment and eco-tourism: Ambassador Khmer Times 14th Jan 2020
Malaysian firms are interested in investing in wastewater treatment and eco-tourism in the Kingdom, sectors in line with the country’s bid to boost bilateral trade and strengthen ties with the Kingdom. Malaysian Ambassador Eldeen Husaini bin Mohd Hashim to Cambodia yesterday met with Environment Minister Say Samal at the ministry to discuss strengthening relations.

Indonesia

Indonesia Traces Movements of Chinese Tourist With Coronavirus The New York Times 13th Feb 2020
Indonesia is retracing the movements of a Chinese tourist diagnosed with coronavirus upon return from the resort island of Bali, a health ministry official said on Thursday. The world's fourth most populous country, with more than 260 million people, is a popular destination for Chinese visitors but has so far not recorded any cases.

Govt mulls incentives as tourism faces potential $2.8b loss from outbreak The Jakarta Post 13th Feb 2020
The government is mulling over incentives for the tourism and airline industries to mitigate potential losses of US$2.8 billion from the coronavirus disease outbreak, which has already led to a decline in tourist arrivals.

Indonesia lures Australia to invest in '10 New Bali' tourist destinations The Jakarta Post 11th Feb 2020
Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) head Bahlil Lahadalia has offered potential investment opportunities in Indonesia’s 10 new tourist destinations, dubbed the "10 New Balis", to the Australian government. In a visit to Canberra on Sunday, Bahlil had the opportunity to meet with Australia's Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Simon Birmingham, among other officials.

Laos

Laos Stays Corona-free, but Virus Shakes Travel Trade Destination Thailand News 6th Feb 2020
Laos, China’s southern neighbour, continues to fend off the coronavirus, with no reported cases, due largely to a quick government response. Meanwhile, the country’s tourism and hospitality sector is feeling the pinch from widespread global fears. According to Luang Prabang View General Manager John Morris Williams, hotels in the UNESCO World Heritage city are reporting cancellations of up to 40% of their bookings for early 2020, due to the virus scare, especially from European customers.

Laos Suspends Visas at Checkpoints Bordering China Laotian Times 2nd Feb 2020
The Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a notice to all checkpoints bordering China to temporarily suspend the issuance of tourist visas to those entering the Lao PDR from China. The notice reads, “due to the outbreak of the new Coronavirus originating in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, which has spread rapidly across China and other nations, causing widespread illness and death, in order to protect our nation from the threat of this virus, the consular department instructs all international checkpoints bordering China to temporarily suspend the issuance of tourist visas for entry into the Lao PDR for all visitors wishing to travel from China, commencing 2 February 2020 until further notice.”

Xayaboury set to become new transit hub Asia News Network 31st Jan 2020
Xayaboury province is becoming a major transit hub for international tour-ists after the government upgraded a border crossing with Thailand to inter-national level, according to a senior provincial official.

Travel company gets nod to assess proposed eco-tourism project in Vientiane Asia News Network 31st Jan 2020
Vientiane may soon have an eco-tourism venture after the government authorised the Green Adventure Travel Company Limited to conduct a survey and feasibility study of a proposed project.

China’s Trip.com and Laos strengthen tourism cooperation TTG Asia 14th Jan 2020
Trip.com Group CEO Jane Sun and the Lao minister of information, culture, and tourism Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune convened in December to discuss cooperation possibilities in tourism, including the streamlining of visa applications and cultural exchange projects, to drive tourism traffic between the two lands.

Finnish and Danish travellers decreased in Laos in 2019 ScandAsia 9th Jan 2020
Laos welcomed 4.58 million international visitors in 2019, representing growth of nine percent over 2018 when tourist numbers failed to reach the target. Local daily Vientiane Times quoted Director General of the Tourism Marketing Department under Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Sounh Manivong on 8th January 2020, as saying that much of the success was due to the Visit Laos-China Year 2019 campaign. The number of Chinese tourists alone increased by 27 percent or 1.02 million people.

Laos claws back tourist arrivals TTR Weekly 9th Jan 2020
Laos got its tourist arrivals back on track in 2019 reporting a headcount of 4.58 million, up 9% after a below target showing in 2018. Reported initially by the Vientiane Times, the data was released earlier this week by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism’s director-general of the tourism marketing department, Sounh Manivong.

Laos' foreign tourist arrivals up 9 pct in 2019 Xinhua 8th Jan 2020
Laos welcomed 4.58 million international visitors in 2019, representing growth of nine percent over 2018 when tourist numbers failed to reach the target. Local daily Vientiane Times on Wednesday quoted Director General of the Tourism Marketing Department under Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Sounh Manivong, as saying that much of the success was due to the Visit Laos-China Year 2019 campaign.

Malaysia

Hotels in Malaysia report loss of RM40m in revenue due to Wuhan virus The Edge Markets 10th Feb 2020
Hotels in Malaysia reported a total of 95,972 room cancellations due to the fast-spreading 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), resulting in a loss of revenue of over RM40 million as of February 8. This was revealed by the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) in a statement on February 10, which highlighted it has met with relevant ministries in preparation of a government stimulus package for the tourism industry. MAH president Kamaruddin Baharin said most of the room cancellations are up until the end of this month, with the majority originating from China. “There are also cancellations from local Malaysians, from Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and other countries. “We are tracking cancellations from our member hotels and the number is growing everyday... People are afraid to travel and that is a problem, despite the situation in Malaysia being well under control and we remain safe for tourism,” he said. MAH said it has met with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi, as well as key industry stakeholders, in a meeting called by the finance ministry in preparation of the government stimulus package for the tourism industry.

Malaysia's move to probe AirAsia rattles investors Nikkei Asian Review 3rd Feb 2020
Malaysian authorities' decision to probe AirAsia following alleged graft detailed in Airbus SE's record-$4 billion bribery settlement rattled investors on February 3 who hammered the share of the budget carrier to a four-year low. Analysts said the scandal, which sparked knee-jerk selldown and could potentially mar AirAsia's reputation, may continue to weigh on the shares, while travel restrictions due to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak hurt passenger traffic growth, posing downside risks to earnings. AirAsia Group shares fell as much as 11% in intra-day Kuala Lumpur trading and ended 10.5% lower 1.28 ringgit apiece. At least two analysts, including TA Securities' Tan Kam Meng, downgraded the stock to Sell. Kenanga Investment Bank's Raymond Choo kept AirAsia at Market Perform but slashed the stock's target price to 1.33 ringgit from 1.70 ringgit. Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating AirAsia following the disclosure in the U.K. on corruption allegations implicating Airbus and two AirAsia executives, the agency said in a statement over the weekend. On Monday, Malaysian Aviation Commission or Mavcom said it will assess fitness and propriety of executives in AirAsia and AirAsia X amid ongoing probes over alleged graft. AirAsia and its long-haul affiliate AirAsia X were named in a settlement case between Airbus and UK's Serious Fraud Office over alleged bribery involved in the sale of the planes. AirAsia "vigorously rejects" and denies any and all allegations of wrongdoing.

Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a bane to VM2020 The Malaysian Reserve 28th Jan 2020
As China battles with the deadly novel coronavirus, market analysts said the outbreak is likely to affect the Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) campaign, as well as the economy to a certain extent. The death toll in China rose to 81 and nearly 2,700 cases of infection were confirmed at press time on January 28. In a report last week, Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd (Kenanga Research) claimed that even with limited coronavirus outbreak in Malaysia, the impact on tourist arrivals from China and elsewhere would be enough to affect VM2020 and to a certain extent the economy in at least the first half of 2020 (1H20). “Given the pace in which the virus is spreading, especially due to heightened travelling activities during the Chinese New Year holidays, the research arm foresees an elevated of worries among consumers, potentially resulting in some adverse spillover to the economy,” the report said. “Like in 2003, we expect the Malaysian government to take pre-emptive fiscal and monetary measures to support tourism, as well as the retail and transport sectors. This would risk a wider fiscal deficit and a higher debt ratio to the GDP.” However, Kenanga Research did add that barring a full-blown epidemic or death roll increase at an alarming rate, it is maintaining its GDP forecast of 4.3% this year.

Ministry to keep close watch on influenza cases to ensure tourism is not affected NST Online 17th Jan 2020
The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry is closely monitoring Influenza A cases in Malaysia given the disease’s potential to disrupt the local tourism industry. Deputy minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik stated that the ministry is coordinating with the Immigration Department, Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB), and the Health Ministry. Bakhtiar also added that Malaysia saw an increase in tourist arrivals in November and December and is unsure whether the number of tourist arrivals in January will be negatively impacted by the influenza outbreak. More than 120 cases of Influenza A have been reported in Penang, Selangor, Pahang and Negri Sembilan since the start of 2020. Thermal scanners have been installed at international entry points and around 99,500 influenza doses will be brought in this month to accommodate the vaccine’s increased demand.

Influenza situation in Malaysia not linked to outbreak in Wuhan, says Health D-G The Star Online 16th Jan 2020
Malaysian health director-general Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah stated that the influenza situation in Malaysia is not related to the spread of the novel coronavirus in Wuham, China. He also noted that currently, no suspected novel coronavirus cases have been reported to the Health Ministry. Dr. Noor Hisham did say that the ministry would increased monitoring and preparation to handle the possibility that the Wuhan novel coronavirus does spread to China. These measures include bolstering screening procedures on incoming travelers and further examination of travelers with fever symptoms.

Digi, partners to launch Malaysia's first 5G virtual tourism experience The Edge Markets 15th Jan 2020
Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd has partnered with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and Panorama Langkawi to initiate Malaysia’s first real-time virtual tourism experience, powered by 5G, at the Langkawi International Airport (LGK). A cable car gondola and virtual reality (VR) experiential zone at the LGK would allow visitors to enjoy a 360-degree view of Gunung Machinchang, live-streamed from 20km away via a camera mounted at the Langkawi SkyCab middle station, where the world’s steepest cable car ride takes one 708 meters above sea level. This showcase is part of Digi’s use case in the 5G Demonstration Projects (5GDP), undertaken by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to facilitate, develop and foster 5G use cases in a live but controlled environment. Digi chief executive officer Albern Murty said that the Langkawi 5G virtual tourism pilot is in line with Digi’s collaborative approach in building a 5G ecosystem alongside partners, as well as corresponds with Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020). Digi’s 5G live site at the airport is one of the first two on the island, with the second located at the Langkawi Hospital.

Myanmar

Myanmar sees world’s fastest tourism growth The Nation Thailand 13th Feb 2020
Myanmar ranked highest among the world’s 20 fastest-growing travel destinations last year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. Myanmar Tourism Marketing, part of the Myanmar Tourism Federation, said the country enjoyed a year-on-year increase of 40.2 per cent in tourist numbers, followed by Puerto Rico at 31.2 per cent and Iran at 27.9 per cent.

Myanmar Officials, Ethnic Leaders Monitor China Border for Coronavirus Voice of America 7th Feb 2020
Intent on preventing an outbreak of the coronavirus in Myanmar, local officials and members of ethnic armed organizations, or EAOs, along the border with China have imposed travel restrictions, increased health checks, called for monitoring of Chinese workers and, in some areas, imposed fines. The border area — known for its rugged terrain beyond the government's control, enterprising smugglers, and long-simmering ethnic wars — concerns health authorities due to lax checkpoint controls.The measures in Myanmar by both the government and EAOs are being enacted as the number of deaths continue to increase in China, where coronavirus 2019-nCoV was first identified in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. According to the government, there are no confirmed cases or deaths in Myanmar. However, the swift spread of the not fully understood virus has alarmed many, leaving officials to quell rumors born of fear and long-held anti-Chinese sentiment.

Philippines

PHL tourism to lose P23 billion a month due to COVID-19  Business World 12th Feb 2020
THE tourism industry alone could lose P22.7 billion in revenues per month amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, with Philippines also seen to be among the most vulnerable countries that might suffer from disruptions in global supply chains after some factories in China halted operations.

OFWs, Filipino students may return to Hong Kong, Macau BusinessMirror 19th Feb 2020
OVERSEAS Filipino workers (OFW) and Filipino students are now allowed to return to Hong Kong and Macau, but at their own risk. The travel ban will still be in place for tourists. They would have to sign a waiver that they are aware of the risk they could be exposed to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) if they head to both territories, which are special administrative regions of China. The travel ban will also cover Filipinos and their foreign spouse or children, and holders of diplomatic visas from both places, who will be heading to the Philippines, on the condition they go through the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Bernard P. Olalia confirmed the development, saying they will resume the processing of OFWs as soon as thedecision takes effect. The lifting of the partial deployment ban on Hong Kong and Macau comes a few days after the government completely removed the travel ban for Taiwan due to the COVID-19 last Friday.

Philippines rolls out tourism push to make up for lost Chinese visitors South China Morning Post 18th Feb 2020
The Philippines is gearing up to slash hotel and airline rates, hold sales in major shopping centres and heavily market its tourism sector – except to visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, whose residents are currently barred from entering. “What we have to tell our tourists [is] it’s safe to come to our country. No local transmission and the hotels and restaurants are ready,” tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Tuesday. To compensate, she said the country’s tourism promotion campaigns would focus on South Korea, the United States, Australia, Japan and Europe.

International tourist arrivals hit 8.26 million Business World 17th Feb 2020
INTERNATIONAL tourist arrivals reached 8.26 million in 2019, exceeding its 8.2 million full-year target, the Department of Tourism (DoT) reported on Monday. However, industry stakeholders are bracing themselves for a decline in international tourist arrivals this year as many have canceled or are putting off travel due to fears over the continued spread of the pneumonia-like coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). In a statement, the DoT said the annual tourist arrivals figure was 15.24% higher than the previous year’s 7.17 million. “Almost all months, except January, registered double-digit growth rates, the largest of which was August at 27.54%, while December recorded the highest volume at 776,798,’’ the DoT said in a statement on Monday.

TSA cites improved security at Manila international airport Business World 13th Feb 2020
Inspectors from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the US Department of Homeland Security were satisfied with improved security measures now being enforced at the country’s main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Philippine airport authorities said on Sunday. TSA and aviation security auditors from the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) wrapped up their latest security audit of terminals and US-bound airlines operating at the Manila airport on Feb. 7, the Department of Transportation, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and OTS said in a joint statement.

‘Virus may cost 95,000 jobs in tourism sector’ BusinessMirror 13th Feb 2020
The new coronavirus (COVID-19) could cause the tourism sector to lose as much as P22.7 billion a month and shed 95,000 jobs, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) told lawmakers in a hearing on Wednesday. Neda Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said the reduction in tourist arrivals due to travel bans would result in the loss of 30,000 to 95,000 jobs. Despite the problems created by COVID-19, however, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told reporters the country’s economy still has a “fighting chance” to expand by around 6 percent in the first quarter. “With respect to international estimates, they also forecast that the Philippines, which is not that dependent on tourism and also not that dependent on external trade, will be in some ways insulated,” Edillon said at the House hearing.

Tourism losses seen to hit P70 billion as nCoV lingers philstar.com 12th Feb 2020
The tourism industry could lose as much as P70 billion if the temporary travel ban from China due to the novel coronavirus(nCoV) drags on for six months, an industry group said. If the impact of the travel ban lags until the end of the first quarter, this would result in P20 billion losses for the Chinese market alone. China remains the country’s largest source market of foreign arrivals, registering a total of 1.6 million arrivals from January to November 2019. President Duterte imposed a temporary travel ban from China and its special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau in a bid to contain the spread of the nCoV. Based on data from the Department of Tourism(DOT), expected foregone revenue from tourists from China, Hong Kong and Macau for February amounts to P14.8 billion. For March, this is expected to amount to P12.8 billion.

U.S. embassy in PH denies suspending visa applications Rappler 10th Feb 2020
The United States embassy in the Philippines denied reports it was supposedly suspending visa applications due to the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus and President Rodrigo Duterte's threats to terminate the two countries' Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The US embassy responded to posts circulating online which claimed the US government ordered its post in Manila to "cancel/revoke all current and existing B1 and B2 visas" starting February 15. The post, which was shared by a fake US embassy in the Philippines account, said the suspension and revocation of visas was due to the threat of the coronavirus and Duterte's decision to abrogate the VFA – the Philippines' long-standing military pact with the US. The US embassy advised the public to refer only to its official website and social media accounts as the best sources of accurate information. It encouraged the public to report visa and passport fraud via email to the following: FPMManila@state.gov.

DoT, Boracay hotel sector to plan room discounts for domestic market as Chinese tourists drop Business World 10th Feb 2020
The Department of Tourism-Western Visayas (DoT-6) office will meet with the region’s industry stakeholders, starting in Boracay, to map out marketing strategies and possible room rate discounts to spur domestic travel. They will start the discussions this week to cushion the impact of the drop in Chinese tourists amid the travel ban for flights from China, Hong Kong and Macau. Discounted room rates are better than empty rooms that may result to loss of employment, loss of livelihood, to hundreds of thousands in the region dependent on tourism. Around 50% of the 434,175 foreigners who visited Boracay in 2019 were Chinese.

Philippines confirms 3rd case of novel coronavirus Rappler 5th Feb 2020
The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday, February 5, reported the Philippines’ 3rd confirmed case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). A 60-year-old woman from Wuhan, China, tested postive for 2019-nCoV. She traveled from Wuhan through Hong Kong and arrived in Cebu on January 20, and headed directly to Bohol. The woman consulted a private hospital after developing fever and colds, and was admitted to a hospital in Bohol. The DOH said it is now probing a total of 133 patients for 2019-nCoV.

Dominguez sees temporary strain on exports, tourism philstar.com 5th Feb 2020
The spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) may create a temporary adverse impact on the local tourism industry as well as the export sector, according to the Department of Finance (DOF). “A significant impact on the economy will most likely be centered on the tourism sector. The travel and tourism industry around the globe is taking a hit as a result of the various levels of travel bans imposed by national governments and of voluntary decisions of airlines to cut flights to and from China,” DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez said. Citing historical data, Dominguez said tourist arrivals to the Philippines during the SARS episode in 2003 dropped by 1.3 percent to 1.9 million from 1.93 million in the previous year. Tourist arrivals slightly decreased back in 2009, during the H1N1 outbreak.

Tourism promotions body optimistic on new leadership philstar.com 5th Feb 2020
The Philippines Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) is optimistic of the country’s tourism marketing and promotions initiatives this year, as it is set to operate under a new leadership. The TPB welcomed Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones as its new chief operating officer (COO), as she succeeds Marie Venus Tan, who recently announced her retirement. “Atty. Velasco-Allones will lead TPB’s continuing campaign to manage all domestic and international marketing and promotional efforts for Philippine tourism an Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Events (MICE) industries,” the TPB said. Allones is set to assume office as TPB COO on Feb. 10. The TPB is the marketing and promotions arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT).      

Transport safety agency seen improving confidence in travel, boosting tourism Business World 5th Feb 2020
AN ADVOCACY GROUP is lobbying for the passage of a pending measure creating a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to improve confidence in the transportation industry and encourage more tourism. “We are promoting seamless travel in the tourism industry, and the backbones of seamless travel are safety and security,” Safe Travel Alliance lead convenor Maria Cherry Lyn S. Rodolfo told reporters Monday. “That gives confidence on the part of the traveler that when he or she travels to the Philippines… when he or she goes to a certain destination, (there is) this level of confidence (that the trip will be) safe because the culture of safety in that destination or community is very high.”

538 Filipinos onboard quarantined Japanese cruise ship Rappler 5th Feb 2020
A luxury cruise ship quarantined near Yokohama, Japan, after its passengers were exposed to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has 538 Filipinos onboard, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday, February 5. The Japanese government quarantined the Diamond Princess cruise ship after an 80-year-old passenger who departed from Hong Kong tested positive for 2019-nCoV. The ship, carrying some 3,700 passengers, was prevented from sailing and is anchored off a pier in the Kanagawa Prefecture capital.

‘Motorcycle taxis need to be legalized before anti-trust review’ philstar.com 3rd Feb 2020
The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said motorcycle taxis need to be legalized first before it can review the definition of a competitive market in which ride-hailing services operate, as Grab Philippines urges the commission to review the matter. “If motorcycles are legal as public utility vehicles, that is a first hurdle that must be met before we begin to consider a possible reconsideration of what a relevant market is,” PCC Commissioner Johannes Bernabe said. Ride-hailing app Grab called on the PCC to review the basis for defining the competitive market in which ride-hailing services operate, emphasizing that on-demand and platform-based motorcycle taxis are effectively competing with Grab. It added that the definition of a competitive market should be broadened to include other denominations and modes of transportation, be it on-demand, street hail, or by other means.                                       

’19 nCoV travel ban could spell P27-B loss for tourism sectors BusinessMirror 3rd Feb 2020
THE country’s tourism and travel industry are projected to lose some at least P27 billion with the temporary travel ban imposed by Malacañang on travelers from China and its special administrative territories, Hong Kong and China. The ban, announced on Sunday before the Department of Health (DOH) reported its first death from the novel coronavirus (nCoV), does not cover, however, Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visas issued by the Philippine government. The Tourism Congress of the Philippines, which had been urging for a complete travel ban on China since last week, welcomed the move of Malacañang. In a news statement on Sunday, the group said, “While we realize that this will affect the tourism industry, we also acknowledge that our country’s safety and health takes precedence over business at this time.”

Ilocos Sur cruise port now in use; formal inauguration this month Business World 9th Jan 2020
TRANSPORTATION Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said the newly-developed Salomague Cruise Port in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, which serves as an alternate cruise port for Region I, will be formally launched this month. “Marami, ‘yung Salomague, ginagamit na ngayon pero i-inaugurate na namin (A lot, including the Salomague Cruise Port. The cruise port is already in use, but we will now inaugurate it),” Mr. Tugade told BusinessWorld on Wednesday when asked about ports to be launched in January. In a social media post in December, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said that the Salomague Cruise Port will serve as an “alternative cruise port in Region I” as it is located near attractions and beaches in the Ilocos provinces.

Direct flights to regional airports driving tourist arrival targets Business World 8th Jan 2020
THE Department of Tourism (DoT) said its target of 9.2 million international visitors this year is driven by more airport development projects which allow tourists to bypass Manila’s congested airport. “According to the National Tourism Development Plan, it’s at 9.2 million for this year,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told reporters on Wednesday on the sidelines of the conference on the Institutionalized Leveraging of Infrastructure Program for Airport Development (iLIPAD) held in New Clark City. The 2019 tourist arrival target was set at 8.2 million. “We are happy that there are more airports opening: Clark, according to (Transportation) Secretary (Arthur P.) Tugade, will be at the latest July, Legazpi, of course that will help. And of course, when we have the approval of the consortium for the expansion of NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airports).”

Singapore

Singapore Airlines to cut flights as COVID-19 outbreak hits demand CNA 18th Feb 2020
Singapore Airlines (SIA) will temporarily cut flights across its global network in the three months to May as a coronavirus epidemic hits demand for services to the Asian city state, as well as through the key transit hub. Key affected destinations include Frankfurt, Jakarta, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Paris, Seoul, Sydney and Tokyo. "Singapore Airlines and SilkAir will temporarily reduce services across our network due to weak demand as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak," the carrier said. The airline added that affected customers will be "notified and re-accommodated onto other flights.

Asian tourism capitals sweat over Chinese travel drought Nikkei Asian Review 13th Feb 2020
Popular Asian travel destinations face the risk of a prolonged decline in visitors from China, a group that generates around 20% of global tourism spending, as the coronavirus disrupts travel and shows signs of stoking anti-Chinese sentiment. The Philippines on Feb. 2 widened a travel ban covering visitors from Hubei Province to all foreign travelers from China, including Hong Kong and Macao. Singapore has banned the entry of foreigners who traveled to China within the previous 14 days. It expects visitor arrivals to decline 25% to 30% this year, with a roughly $5 billion loss in tourism receipts. Thailand saw a nearly 60% drop in Chinese visitors for the last week of January estimating economic losses at 9.15 billion baht ($294 million) between Jan. 24 and 31. Vietnam's tourism industry could lose up to $7.7 billion in the first three months of 2020 due to cancellations of Chinese tours and a general downturn in domestic travelers and international arrivals. Malaysian tourism faces a loss of over 400 million ringgit ($96.7 million) for February and March alone, as 5,000 tour groups from China have scrapped their trips.

Coronavirus Dents Singapore Arrivals By 20,000 Per Day Simple Flying 12th Feb 2020
Passenger arrivals into Singapore’s Changi Airport are down significantly owing to the coronavirus outbreak. The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) estimates passenger arrivals are now down 18,000 to 20,000 per day and set to decline further. The coronavirus outbreak is having a bigger impact on Singapore than the 2003 SARS outbreak. China accounts for about 20% of Singapore’s international visitor arrivals. The Chinese are Singapore’s largest source of tourists. But the Lion City was the first Southeast Asian country to close its borders to new arrivals from mainland China. With the outbreak still not under control, the STB is expecting visitor arrivals to fall 25% to 30% in 2020.

Singapore Braces for 30% Tourism Drop After Virus Outbreak Blooomberg 11th Feb 2020
Singapore could see a 25% to 30% decline in tourist arrivals and spending this year because of the coronavirus outbreak, as the industry braces for a worse impact than the 2003 SARS pandemic, the city’s tourism chief said. The city-state is losing about 18,000 to 20,000 tourists a day, and the figures could plummet further if the situation persists for longer according to the Singapore Tourism Board. China accounts for about 20% of Singapore’s tourism intake, the biggest source of visitors ahead of Indonesia and India.

Singapore Braces as Coronavirus Cases Emerge in Finance Hub Bloomberg.com 10th Feb 2020
Singapore’s coronavirus outbreak has spread to its financial center, with some staff at major companies being told to work from home for at least the next few days and temperature screening checkpoints set up at the front doors of several towers. A worker at an unnamed firm in Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1 has been confirmed as being infected with the virus over the weekend. Another case at nearby Clifford Centre, in the heart of the central business district, is an employee of United Industrial Corp, according to an advisory to tenants in the building where UIC is located. The affected premises in both buildings have been disinfected and all tenants informed.

Khaw: Aviation sector will be hit harder than during Sars The Straits Times 7th Feb 2020
The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the aviation sector will be worse than that of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak in 2003, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday. This is because China is now a much larger market and a much larger source of tourism for Singapore and the region, he said during a visit to Changi Airport. In terms of retail spending, the Chinese make up one-third of Changi Airport's retail sales. With this in mind, the Government is working on a Budget that will help support the sector, and measures are set to be announced later this month, he said. Of particular concern is the retail sector at Changi Airport, with about 7,000 to 8,000 staff employed there, he noted.

Singapore raises risk alert to SARS level as coronavirus cases rise to 33 CNBC 7th Feb 2020
Singapore raised its risk assessment to the second highest level of alert on Friday as the number of coronavirus cases linked to China rose to 33.The Southeast Asian nation — which has one of the most confirmed cases of the mysterious new virus — raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) to orange. That means the disease can be easily transmitted and is severe, but contained.The system is color-coded, starting from green at the lowest level, followed by yellow, orange and red — the highest risk level. During the SARS outbreak 17 years ago, which killed 33 people in Singapore and infected 238, the status was orange.On Friday, three new cases were announced, which took Singapore's total confirmed cases to 33, according to the health ministry. The youngest patient so far is a six-month-old baby.

Coronavirus: Politicians, supermarkets urge calm amid panic-buying of groceries The Straits Times 7th Feb 2020
Politicians and supermarket chain representatives on Friday (Feb 7) called on shoppers to remain calm, saying Singapore has sufficient stocks of essential supplies and food. This was after items began flying off shelves at some supermarkets here when Singapore announced earlier in the day that it will be raising its disease outbreak response to the coronavirus situation by a notch to orange, which is just below the highest level of red. Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing in a Facebook post gave his assurance that Singapore’s supply lines for essential supplies like rice and instant noodles are intact.

Singapore Airshow to go ahead despite fewer exhibitors, with stepped-up coronavirus measures The Straits Times 4th Feb 2020
The Singapore Airshow will go ahead as planned next week despite the withdrawal of 16 exhibitors and fewer visitors expected as travel disruption grows from the spiralling coronavirus outbreak. Experia Events, the airshow's organiser, said the biennial event will proceed as planned from Feb 11 to 16 with enhanced precautionary measures "to safeguard the well-being and safety of all attendees" in view of the evolving coronavirus situation.

NATAS postpones travel fair amid concerns that coronavirus outbreak will dampen turnout CNA 4th Feb 2020
The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS) has postponed a travel fair originally scheduled for this month, amid concerns that the ongoing outbreak of a new coronavirus from Wuhan will affect turnout. The NATAS Travel 2020 fair, which was set to be held at the Singapore Expo from Feb 21 to 23, has now been pushed back to May 1 to 3. NATAS organises two massive travel fairs a year; one in February or March and the second in August or September. Its fairs have typically attracted more than 110,000 visitors a year, according to its website.

Singapore and Malaysia tourism boards outline plans amidst coronavirus crisis Marketing Interactive 3rd Feb 2020
Singapore has banned new visitors of any nationality who recently travelled to mainland China within the last 14 days. Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said the initial economic impact of the outbreak has been felt most intensely by the transport and tourism sectors, with a decline in air traffic through Changi and an increase in hotel room cancellations. Meanwhile, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said it will waive licence fees for hotels, travel agents and tourist guides, and defray enhanced cleaning costs of hotels that provided accommodation to confirmed and suspected cases of the Wuhan coronavirus infections. Meanwhile, Malaysia has only banned flights from the Hubei province to the country and flights from other parts of mainland China to Malaysia remain unaffected, except in Sabah where all incoming flights from mainland China have been suspended. Tourism Malaysia’s spokesperson told Marketing that China has always been an important market for Malaysia’s tourism industry. In terms of ranking, mainland China is currently Malaysia’s third biggest contributor in tourist arrivals to the country. In contrast, the market was ranked fifth in 2009.

Thailand

Tourist arrivals to plunge 50% in first half of 2020 The Thaiger 18th Feb 2020
Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says he expects tourist arrivals to plunge by 50% in the first half of 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak, meaning cutting the prediction from 40 million to 20 million. He has also urged the Tourism Authority of Thailand to work harder in the second half of the year to compensate for the first. This week, the Thai government also foreshadowed that it is ready to throw some financial lifelines, including soft loans, tax incentives and training in return for income, to tourism operators ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak.

Phuket businesses seek B50bn in help Bangkok Post 18th Feb 2020
Businessmen are making an urgent call on the government to allocate 50 billion baht in soft loans as part of financial assistance to shore up tourism in Phuket, currently left reeling by a sharp drop in Chinese tourists as a result of the widening Covid-19 outbreak. In response to the epidemic, Beijing has decided to ban outbound group tours in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly virus. However, this has dealt a heavy blow to Phuket, whose main source of revenue is tourism. Researchers from Prince of Songkla University's Phuket campus said local workers in tourism-related businesses are likely to have to bear the impact for seven months, which will cause 29-32 billion baht in lost revenue. Authorities should also consider reducing oil tax for planes to encourage people to fly to Phuket, suggested Phuket Chamber of Commerce chairman Thanusak Phuengdet.

Chiang Mai reels under impact of new coronavirus as tourists stay away The Nation Thailand 12th Feb 2020
The new coronavirus outbreak has turned Chiang Mai into a quiet town. A van service provider in Chiang Mai said that during the 44th Chiang Mai Flower Festival from February 7-9, his company only saw Thai customers visiting the fair. “My vans usually pick up Chinese tourists from tourist attractions to Khaomao-Khaofang, a giant fusion restaurant in Chiang Mai, which was always packed with Chinese tourists, but this year I have yet to see a single Chinese tourist there.” January and February mark the start of the high-season for Chiang Mai tourism that lasts until Songkran Festival in April. The tourism industry in Chiang Mai usually expects more than 2 million visitors from China alone.

Tourists Dwindle as Thailand Readies for Coronavirus Threat Foreign Policy 7th Feb 2020
As more Chinese cities lock down their populations out of fear of the coronavirus, China’s neighbors are stirring uneasily. One of the most fraught is Thailand, which sees 11 million Chinese travelers a year and has been described by population mappers as one of the countries most at risk. The reactions have ranged from panic to preparation. Phuket finds itself particularly vulnerable to changes in the tourism landscape. 15 of the 100 member hotels had suffered 100 percent cancellations of Chinese group tour bookings. The Phuket News reported on Feb. 3 that Phuket Gov. Phakaphong Tavipatana requested 20 billion baht ($640 million) in assistance to cover the potential losses from the fallout of the coronavirus, including loans to support tourism with 2 percent interest—the same rate as the soft loans provided after the 2004 tsunami.

Suvarnabhumi runway bids due next month Bangkok Post 4th Feb 2020
March 5th, 2020 marks the deadline for interested parties to purchase bid envelopes for the construction of the third runway at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport. Bid submissions are due on March 6th, and envelopes will be opened on March 9th by the board of the Airports of Thailand. The addition of the proposed third runway will increase the airport's capacity to handle 94 flights per hour. Construction is expected to take around three years at a cost of 21.79 billion baht.

Vietnam

Vietnam strives to turn tourism into a key economic sector by 2030 Nhan Dan Online 17th Feb 2020
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has recently approved a tourism development strategy by 2030. The strategy aims to turn Vietnam into a renowned destination by 2025, ranking among the three leading countries in terms of tourism development in Southeast Asia and among the top 50 nations with the highest tourism competitiveness in the world. The tourism sector aims to earn VND3.1-3.2 trillion (US$130-135 billion) and create 8.5 million jobs by 2030. Vietnam looks to attract at least 50 million foreigners and serve 160 million domestic tourists by that time.

Porsche Carrera Cup Asia confirmed as Vietnam F1’s supporting race The Star Online 13th Feb 2020
The Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation (VGPC) has confirmed that the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (PCCA) will be a support race for the Formula 1 VinFast Vietnam Grand Prix 2020 in Hanoi in April. The first ever Vietnam Grand Prix, which is the third race of this year’s FIA Formula 1 World Championship, will take place on April 3-5. The PCCA will be the second supporting race together with the Thailand Super Series (TSS) on the weekend’s racing schedule.

Vietnam postpones annual national tourism promotion over novel coronavirus VnExpress International 10th Feb 2020
Vietnam has postponed the February 22 opening ceremony of the National Tourism Year due to nCoV epidemic concerns. The now date of the ceremony has not been decided. The northern province of Ninh Binh had been chosen to host the event with the theme of "Hoa Lu – Thousand-year-old Capital." More than 100 activities nationwide had been planned for the year under the latest edition of the National Tourism Year. These included the Trang An festival at the Trang An Landscape Complex, the final round of Miss Capital Asean 2020, and an international conference on Xam singing, a traditional folk music form said to be in danger of being lost. The annual tourism campaign has been held every year since 2003 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in tandem with a local administration.

Vietnam promotes Vĩnh Long province as new tourism destination The Star Online 9th Feb 2020
This year, the Vĩnh Long province aims to receive 1.6 million tourists, including 220,000 foreigners, while income from tourism is expected to reach VNĐ800 billion (US$34 million). In 2019, Vĩnh Long received 1.5 million tourists, a 15 per cent increase against the previous year. The income from tourism last year was VNĐ525 billion (US$22.5 million), a 54 per cent year-on-year increase. To get tourists to stay longer, the local tourism sector has decided to promote some special tourism products. Director of Vĩnh Long Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Phan Văn Giàu says hát bội (classical drama) shows have been offered on a trial basis as entertainment for tourists.

Saigon Chinese-origin community festival recognized as national cultural heritage VnExpress International 9th Feb 2020
Tet Nguyen Tieu, considered the most important festival of the Vietnamese-Chinese community in Saigon’s District 5, has been recognized as national intangible cultural heritage. The decision was made Saturday by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, following a proposal made by the city administration last September. In District 5, home to the largest Vietnamese-Chinese community in the city, Tet Nguyen Tieu is the biggest and most important festival of the year, marking the final day of the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) celebration. It is observed on the 15th day of the first lunar month, the first Full Moon day of the New Year.

Vietnam has additional 11 national intangible cultural heritages VietNamNet 4th Feb 2020
Vietnam has added 11 more cultural icons to the list of national intangible cultural heritage, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. They are 1) a festival of Chu Xa village in Hanoi’s Gia Lam district; 2) the “gau tao” festival of H’Mong ethnic people in Phong Tho, Sin Ho and Tam Duong districts of the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau; 3) the Dai Bi pagoda festival in the northern province of Nam Dinh’s Nam Truc district; 4) the “cap sac” (maturity ritual) of Dao Quan chet ethnic people in the northwest province of Dien Bien’s Tua Chua district; 5) the Linh Quang pagoda festival in the northern province of Nam Dinh’s Truc Ninh district; 6) the “cap sac” (maturity ritual) of Dao Tien ethnic people in the northern province of Phu Tho’s Tan Son district; 7) the “goi au” (Lung ta) ritual of the Thai Trang ethnic group in the northwestern province of Son La’s Quynh Nhai district; 8) the Tra On temple festival in the Mekong delta province of Vinh Long’s Tra On district; 9) and the Nguyen Tieu (Mid-First Lunar Month) festival of the Hoa ethnic people in Ho Chi Minh City; 10) drum making of Dao Do ethnic people in the northwest province of Lao Cai’s Sa Pa district; 11) the art of pattern making on costumes of H’Mong Hoa ethnic people in Son La province’s Moc Chau district.

Tours connected to swift raising villages in Kien Giang VietnamPlus 27th Jan 2020
The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang is studying the building of a new tourism product on the basis of swift raising in close association with environment protection so as to attract more tourists, thus diversifying its tourism products. Kien Giang is rich in potential to develop swift raising with advantages like suitable environment, and diverse and rich feeds. The trade is bringing about relatively high economic efficiency. If successful, each 100 square metres can yield from one to two kilogrammes of nestles. According to Nguyen Xuan Quang, director of the Planning – Research and Development Office of the Kien Giang Tourism Department, the building of concentrated areas for swift raising as well as the model of the spaces for the trade in association with the development of ecotourism will create an attraction for visitors, thus helping diversify and enrich the province’s tourism products.

Uncover the charms of Mekong Rustic Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 24th Jan 2020
In recent years, the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang has become an attractive destination for foreign tourists, especially those who have a desire to explore the peaceful daily life of farmers in the western land. Perhaps, the most interesting feature in Mekong Rustic Cai Be is not the luxury of high class services but the activities surrounding the farm life. Mekong Rustic homestay is more than just an accommodation, it is also a place full of culture and the daily life of farmers. Hosts will cook and introduce more about local specialities for tourists. In order to guarantee the quality, the maximum capacity for a homestay is ten people. Visitors can wear traditional outfits of Mekong Delta farmers and work as a farmer with the hosts.

PM approves tourism development strategy by 2030 Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 23rd Jan 2020
The strategy aims to turn Vietnam into a renowned destination by 2025, ranking among three leading countries in terms of tourism development in Southeast Asia and among top 50 nations with the highest tourism competitiveness in the world. Accordingly, tourism revenue is expected to reach 1,700-1,800 trillion VND (77-80 billion USD), contributing 12-14 percent to the country’s gross domestic product and creating about 5.5-6 million jobs. Vietnam strives to serve at least 35 million international tourists and 120 million domestic holidaymakers by that year. To realise the set goals, the overriding priority will be given to the completion of tourism policies, as well as development of infrastructure, tourism workers and products. The strategy also attaches importance to public-private partnerships in sustainable tourism development.

Vietnam’s upscale tourism on the rise Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 23rd Jan 2020
With new luxury hotels, world-class golf courses, and international entertainment complexes recently opened or set to open soon, Vietnam is shaping up to be one of the most dynamic destinations in Asia with luxury as the fastest-growing segment. Luxury tourism only accounts for 3 per cent of the total number of visitors to Vietnam but they contribute a remarkable part to the total revenue of the sector. Unlike mass tourism, where many people prefer to travel in groups, upmarket tourists often travel in small groups with specific requirements such as privacy, uniqueness, and unusual experiences. As such, golf tourism has become a potential target for Vietnamese tourism. Upscale tailor-made tours in Vietnam now also offer yacht cruises, helicopter tours, limousine services, wellness tours with world-class spas, centuries-old massage techniques, and delicious healthy cuisine.

Orfarm opens agri tourism Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 23rd Jan 2020
Two seemingly unrelated economic fields, agriculture and tourism, have partnered harmoniously to generate unique products, attracting domestic and particularly foreign visitors and opening a new way for Vietnam’s agricultural sector to add more value to its products. Bui Bich Lien, CEO of Thuy Thien Nhu farm, said that based on the suggestions from previous visitors who had attended field trips and were impressed by the company’s methods, ORFARM has decided to merge organic farming and tourism into an organic agri-tourism model since early 2019. This model targets high-income customers, who are already enjoying ORFARM’s products, with many of them being foreigners living in Vietnam. Besides visiting and enjoying the products from the farm, the guests could stay overnight and directly participate in one of the steps of production, the breeding and harvesting of the farm’s products.

Direct air route to facilitate Việt Nam-Czech relationship vietnamnews.vn 16th Jan 2020
Bamboo Airways was working to become the first Vietnamese carrier to open a direct route connecting Hà Nội and Prague in an attempt to bring the two countries closer together, a meeting heard in Prague on Wednesday. The roadshow aimed to introduce Việt Nam’s tourism potential and provide information about a direct air route linking the two countries. In his speech, Vietnamese Ambassador to the Czech Republic Hồ Minh Tuấn said the launch of this route - the first connecting the Czech Republic with ASEAN - would open up many new co-operation opportunities in the fields of tourism and trade.

Cruise ship arrivals to Vietnam pick up in 2020 Tuoi Tre News 16th Jan 2020
On January 11 and 12, Saigontourist welcomed the Spectrum of the Seas – the Quantum of the Seas ‘sister ship’ – and its 6,750 international visitors and crew members to the central cities of Hue, Da Nang, and Hoi An as well as the south-central beach city of Nha Trang. Just two weeks into 2020, Vietnam has already welcomed more than 16,500 international visitors and crew members from a total of three modern cruise ships, marking a great start to the new year in terms of cruise arrivals. According to travel companies, international cruise passengers prefer activities where they can interact with locals, such as visiting traditional handicraft workshops, cooking classes, and tasting local cuisines. In 2019, the number of cruise ship passengers reached 264,000, accounting for 1.5 percent of all arrivals and an increase of 22.7 percent year-on-year. However, this ratio remains low compared to the potential of Vietnam’s cruise tourism when taking into account its long coastline and world-famous beaches.

Indian tourists to Vietnam increase Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Jan 2020
India climbed into the top 16 markets with the highest number of visitors to Vietnam in 2019. In terms of growth, the country ranked third with an increase of 27.7 percent year-on-year to 169,000 tourists, after Thailand (45.9 percent and 510,000 visitors) and Taiwan (29.8 percent and 927,000). In 2019, low-cost airline VietjetAir launched two direct flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to New Delhi, becoming the first airline connecting the two biggest economic, cultural and tourist centres of Vietnam and the capital of India. The same year, Indian low-cost airline IndiGo launched its first direct flights between Kolkata-Hanoi and Kolkata-Ho Chi Minh City.

Hanoi hopes to welcome nearly 32 million tourists in 2020 VietnamPlus 15th Jan 2020
Hanoi hopes to raise the number of tourist arrivals by over 10 percent from last year to nearly 32 million in 2020, according to the municipal Department of Tourism. In particular, it aims to attract more than 8.2 million foreigners and nearly 23.8 million domestic visitors this year, representing year-on-year increases of 17 percent and 8 percent, respectively. The capital city also looks to earn 116.6 trillion – 120 trillion VND (5 billion – 5.2 billion USD) from tourists, up 12.3 – 15.5 percent from the previous year, and have an average occupancy rate of 65 – 68 percent at local accommodation facilities. The Mastercard Asia Pacific Destinations Index gave the city the 15th position among the top 20 destinations in the region.

Vietnam Int’l Travel Mart 2020 slated for April VietnamPlus 9th Jan 2020
The Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM) 2020, themed “Heritage – Power of Vietnam Tourism”, will take place in Hanoi from April 1-4, announced the Vietnam Tourism Association on January 9. The VITM will feature 505 booths by exhibitors from 25 countries and territories. As part of the event, a forum on the same theme will be held, discussing cultural heritages’ contributions to tourism and economic development. With 500 delegates from State management agencies, travel agencies and tourism educational establishments nationwide taking part, the forum is expected to raise their awareness about pooling social resources for Vietnam’s sustainable tourism development.

Luxury hotel segment sees sharp expansion vietnamnews.vn 8th Jan 2020
With 50 five-star hotels and 68 four-star hotels being built last year, the luxury segment now has 466 hotels with 97,098 rooms, according to a report released by the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism. The number of accommodation facilities overall increased by 2,000 to 30,000 with more than 650,000 rooms, the report showed. The rising number of upscale hotels indicated sharp growth in luxury tourism. Last year, Việt Nam won a number of tourism awards, including Asia’s Leading Destination, Asia’s Leading Culinary Destination, the World’s Leading Heritage Destination, and the World’s Best Golf Destination.