Travel and Tourism Update: April 29, 2020

Travel and Tourism Update | April 29, 2020
Authors: Shay Wester, Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Steven Gunawan, Julianne Alberto
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

June 9-11: 2020 Mission to the ASEAN Customs Directors-General Meeting. US-ABC will organize our 2020 Mission to the ASEAN Customs Directors-General Meeting. For questions and requests for additional information, please email Michaela Wong at mwong@usasean.org.

ASEAN Tourism Committee Meetings (ATCM) Meetings. These are tentatively set sometime mid-June. We shall keep members updated.

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

September: 2020 Philippines Business Mission. The 2020 Business Mission to the Philippines has been tentatively set to be held during the first week of September.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

ASEAN Tourism Ministers call for strengthening cooperation to revitalize ASEAN tourism

On April 29, 2020, the Tourism Ministers of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) convened a Special Meeting on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and issued a joint statement (also attached) agreeing to foster ASEAN coordination in expediting information exchange on travel related health and other necessary measures to control the spread of COVID-19 through the enhanced operation of the ASEAN Tourism Crisis Communication Team (ATCCT). The ASEAN Tourism Ministers (ATM) also agreed to intensify ASEAN’s National Tourism Organizations’ (NTOs) collaboration with other relevant ASEAN sectors such as health, information, transport, and immigration as well as ASEAN’s external partners. The Ministers also called for closer cooperation with ASEAN Dialogue Partners to capture key learnings in a post-crisis review report to manage future pandemics or crises. Furthermore, they agreed to support the development and implementation of a post COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Plan.

The policy statements and documents cited in the chapeau paragraphs of the joint statement include the following:

  1. ASEAN Chairman’s Statement on ASEAN Collective Response to the Outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019;
  2. ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) Chairman’s Press Statement on COVID-19 issued on 20 February 2020 in Vientiane, Lao PDR;
  3. United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and WHO joint recommendations released on 26 February 2020, covering three key areas, namely, Managing the Crisis and Mitigating the Impact, Providing Stimulus and Accelerating Recovery, and Preparing for Tomorrow;
  4. Declaration of the Special ASEAN Summit on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) issued on 14 April 2020; and
  5. ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Statement on Strengthening ASEAN’s Economic Resilience in Response to the Outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) issued on 10 March 2020.

Indonesia to prepare stimulus package for the tourism industry and to continue the development of super-priority tourist destinations

The COVID-19 outbreak is expected to wipe more than USD 10 Billion in losses from Indonesia’s tourism revenue this year. The government predicts that the number of foreign tourists will fall tremendously by 68.75% vis-à-vis the previous year. In aviation, border closures and flight cancellations caused airline companies to lose around 20 – 50% of their earnings since January. The drastic fall of tourists have prompted all airlines to scale down frequency and routes by 50%. Moreover, the hotel industry has been severely affected by the outbreak. According to the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), the occupancy rate had plunged below 2% and more than 1,260 hotels have closed as of early April.

Given the industry outcry, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced on April 16 that the nation is currently preparing stimulus packages for the tourism industry and a safety net for the workers during his speech at a cabinet meeting. He has also ordered his ministers to disburse a stimulus package for businesses in the hard-hit tourist and creative economy sectors to help them survive the economic impact caused by COVID-19. The President has also asked Minister Wishnutama of Tourism and Creative Economy to reallocate their budget to labor-intensive programs in the tourism sector in order to avoid massive layoffs.

Nonetheless, Jokowi predicted a leisure travel boom for 2021 after the pandemic is over. In fact, the government is seeking to hasten the development of five super-priority tourist destinations as part of its broader efforts to attract foreign and domestic tourists after the pandemic. During a virtual coordination meeting, the Coordinating Maritime and Investment Minister asked related ministries to gear up the development of several villages nearby Lake Toba in North Sumatra by focusing on accessibility, local culture and cleanliness.

Malaysia to explore merger to save aviation industry

Malaysia's Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Azmin Ali has stated that Malaysia's deliberations on various options to support the country's airline industry involve the possible merger of state carrier Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) with budget airline AirAsia Group Berhad. This is in order to "save" the two airline companies as the COVID-19 pandemic hits the aviation industry.

The Minister said that the merger was already being considered last year but discussions need to continue. The Malaysian government has been looking for ways to help its national airline by searching for a strategic partner. This move comes after MAB pushes to rebound from the two tragedies of 2014: the disappearance of Flight MH370 and the shooting down of Flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) supports the possibility of a merger. Noting that countries globally have bailed out the airline industry, MATTA President Tan Kok Liang highlighted the need for government intervention as the "aviation industry sits at the core of the whole tourism ecosystem." He cites that airports in Malaysia had registered a decline of 27.6% in passenger movement with international and domestic passenger movements decreasing by 32.4% and 22.4%, respectively. Aviation Consultancy Endau Analytics however noted that a merger might harm consumers by creating a monopoly on many routes. At present, AirAsia controls 50% of the market while MAB has 30% market control.

Singapore supports tourism industry through marketing support, upskilling, and “SG Clean” certification

The Singapore government is implementing initiatives to support the tourism industry in the hopes of helping its stakeholders through the Circuit Breaker period and of giving the industry the lifeline it needs when it eventually proceeds to the recovery phase.

In its April 24 statement, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) promoted its SGD20 million (US$ 14.1 million) Marketing Partnership Programme which will be used to support marketing costs to companies that collaborate with tourism stakeholders. Under Phase 1 of this programme, the STB will support 50%-70% of qualified marketing costs. The programme will be extended to the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibition (MICE) sector under Phase 2 which opens in May. The STB also launched the SG Stories Content Fund to assist creators in developing, producing, marketing, and distribution of content about Singapore resiliency and solidarity.

To accelerate the digital transformation of the tourism industry, the STB will be launching in the second quarter of 2020 the Tourism Transformation Index. It is a self-assessment tool to help companies identify key strengths and points for improvement. Additionally, the STB will be opening ThreeHouse, an innovation space where companies can collaborate to test new ideas and solutions. Further, the Singapore Tourism Analytics Network or "STAN" can be used by tourism stakeholders to access and exchange data relevant to recovery.

In terms of upskilling the workforce, the STB Marketing College has partnered with platforms such as Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn for e-learning via webinar series on business insights on customer engagement, digital marketing, as well as online collaboration tools to support remote working and overseas market expansion efforts.

In the hospitality front, the Singapore National Environment Agency earlier launched SG Clean to promote good personal hygiene and social responsibility. As a means of engaging businesses in this campaign, Singapore issues businesses which have satisfied the SG Clean checklist with a quality mark. Businesses which intend to secure the SG Clean quality mark must have their premises assessed by the government. Should the assessor find lapses in compliance with the checklist, the business will be given an opportunity to rectify the situation. As of April 2, the list of businesses which can be audited include licensed hotels and integrated resorts, among others.

 
 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
New Calm Created by Coronavirus Offers Southeast Asia Chance to Redo Sustainable Tourism
Regional flights down 93% in early April
RedDoorz partners with Governments across Southeast Asia to help frontline health workers combat the spread of COVID-19
ASEAN Film Week 2020 to be held

Brunei
Brunei foresees strong economy despite COVID-19 crisis, says minister
Over 2,100 small business owners to get $300 for three months
Number of visitors from Brunei to Malaysia drops by 12pc in 2019
RB in dire straits with 95% of flights cut, staff put on compulsory leave

Cambodia
Brand new port on the Tonle Sap for tourists and locals nears completion
Cambodia offers tax exemption for tourism services
Cambodia Legal Update: New Instruction on Suspension of Employment Contracts and NSSF Contribution Payments for Certain Enterprises Seriously Impacted by COVID-19 
Cambodia NOC President leads Chinese delegation on visit to new sports complex
Cambodia’s tourism to take longer to recover from pandemic
Further fiscal woes for tourism sector

Indonesia
Bali sees almost 100 percent drop in foreign tourists
Labour crunch threatens Indonesia’s tourism recovery, says trade
Hotels in Bali may start reopening in May as island expects to welcome Chinese tourists in June
Tourism will take at least a year to recover from COVID-19 outbreak: Economists
‘Booming’ tourism in 2021? Jokowi says he’s convinced COVID-19 pandemic will only last until end of year

Laos
Prime Minister Thongloun Advises Preparing Tourism Sector
Hotel and Restaurant Owners Discuss Concerns with DPM
Laos celebrates new year under Covid-19 cloud - UCA News
Vietnam helps Laos prepare for UNESCO recognition of national reserve
Luang Prabang tourist sites temporarily shut down
2 China-Laos Railway bridges complete closure over Mekong River

Malaysia
AirAsia Malaysia starts flying again, passengers need to bring own masks
Covid-19: Budget hotels urge Malaysian government for law to help them stay open
Malaysia saw more tourists coming to Malaysia in 2019
More emphasis on Cuti-Cuti Malaysia to revive tourism sector
Malaysia Airlines needs government assistance
AirAsia announces resumption of domestic flights
Foreign tourist receipts at RM86.14bil in 2019
Hotel industry feeling the brunt of the virus impact
Malaysia airline industry could lose US$3.32b in revenue due to Covid-19 crisis, IATA says
IATA: RM14.4b revenue loss for Malaysia’s aviation industry due to travel restrictions
Grounded airlines in Malaysia take to the skies to help Covid-19 frontliners

Myanmar
H&T Ministry seeks cooperation from private tourism sector to promote outbound services in post-COVID-19 period
Myanmar hotel industry receives another lifeline
Myanmar economy still forecast to grow despite global recession: IMF
Companies to receive COVID-19 loans, but discrepancies hamper number of approvals
Quarantine period increased to 21, commercial flight arrivals suspended until April 30: DASSK

Philippines
DOT: New normal to reduce visitors at tourist sites
Tourism revenue, arrivals both decline over 40%
Lockdown brings P7-B monthly losses to local airlines — ACAP
DOT Offers Online Enhanced Opportunity Training for Tourism Stakeholders
24,836 Hotel Rooms Reserved for OFW's Quarantine, BPO Staff Use - DOT Chief
Rent relief for airport tenants extended to April 30
IATF backs lifting of deployment ban on health staff with contracts
OFWs, outsourcing workers to live in hotel rooms
Airlines in Philippines Seek Credit Aid as They Fight to Survive

Singapore
Singapore visitor arrivals in March lowest since Sars outbreak in 2003
Coronavirus: SIA extends flight cuts to May; Jetstar Asia to fly to 3 cities
Cruise ships to be assessed for use as temporary accommodation for foreign workers
Support for businesses and individuals to defray third-party professional cleaning and disinfection costs for premises with confirmed COVID-19 cases | STB
Coronavirus: Hotels among lodgings being used to house foreign workers from dormitories
Aviation sector commits to filling over 17,500 training places
Flights won't recover by next year says Singapore - as it closes airport terminal
Coronavirus: Aviation sector commits to filling over 17,500 training spaces, says NTUC
Singapore residents returning from ASEAN countries, France, India and Switzerland must self-isolate at hotels

Thailand
THAI will borrow to survive, remain state enterprise
6 million unemployed in tourism alone - a stark outlook for Thailand's tourist industry
Scheduled passenger flight ban extended until end of May
Thailand turns to China to revive post-Covid tourist economy
TAT expects 16m international tourists
Business News: China to lead Thailand tourism revival, say experts
Eight airlines to meet Minister Uttama on loans
CAAT extends flight ban
Nearly 190, 000 dismissed tourism workers join preemployment card program
Foreigners' visas automatically extended
Hungry times at Thailand's elephant sanctuaries as coronavirus hits tourism
THAI Smile to halt domestic flights from Tuesday

Vietnam
Foreign tourist arrivals down 37.8 percent in first four months
New community tour sites to be built in Da Nang
Ministry prepares plans on recovery of tourism market
Most tourism firms forecast 80 per cent revenue drop
Vietnam seeks to reopen all domestic flights from Thursday
A vital mangrove forest hidden in Vietnam’s largest city could be at risk
Vietjet offers Power Pass for unlimited flights in Vietnam
Hà Nội halts $4 million tourism promotion package on CNN
Airlines to increase flights from April 16
90 per cent of travel firms suspend operations
Vietjet ensures flights during national social distancing
Saigon's Q1 foreign arrivals down 42 percent - VnExpress International
Vietnam wins ASEAN Tourism Awards
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

New Calm Created by Coronavirus Offers Southeast Asia Chance to Redo Sustainable Tourism Skift 29th Apr 2020
Southeast Asian destinations that once attracted hordes of foreign tourists may face an uphill battle in getting visitors back as they emerge from the global health crisis. With most travelers looking to reconnect with nature after spending copious amount of time indoors during the coronavirus lockdown, it’s more likely that travelers would be drawn to Bali’s cultural heartland of Ubud, or Uluwatu, with its access to water and space. For that to happen, sustainable tourism experts believe it is paramount for public and private sectors to join forces to properly manage visitor numbers to attractions. The crisis also spells a perfect opportunity to promote secondary and tertiary destinations in Asia. Visitor dispersion to such destinations is what sustainable tourism professionals promote to counter overtourism, and it is recovery from undertourism that might push these emerging destinations to be more attractive than before.

Regional flights down 93% in early April Business World 16th Apr 2020
Flights operated by airlines in Asia-Pacific countries declined by 93% in the first week of April due to ockdowns and border closures, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said. AAPA is a trade association of airlines based in the Asia-Pacific region. AAPA noted that global demand for air cargo decreased by 19% in March compared with the same month last year, but is “holding up relatively well” despite economic uncertainty in many countries as a result of actions taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). AAPA Director-General Subhas Menon noted some 50 million individuals who work in travel and tourism within the region have also been affected.

RedDoorz partners with Governments across Southeast Asia to help frontline health workers combat the spread of COVID-19 Yahoo! Finance 9th Apr 2020
RedDoorz, Southeast Asia's fastest-growing online hotel management and booking platform announced the launch of "Red Heroes", a new regional initiative that will provide free temporary accommodation for emergency services and frontline healthcare staff battling COVID-19. The programme is being rolled out across Southeast Asia in a bid to provide much-needed support during the COVID-19 pandemic as the local authorities are faced with a growing number of cases. RedDoorz will also supply and distribute health and wellbeing kits as part of this initiative. Each kit consists of washable face masks, alcohol-based hand sanitisers, energy drinks and droplet hats. Kits will be distributed equally across the rooms to ensure frontline healthcare staff are well equipped with all of the essentials during their stay at select RedDoorz properties.

ASEAN Film Week 2020 to be held Nhan Dan Online 9th Apr 2020
The film week is scheduled to be held in Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City with the aim of promoting the fine values of people in the ASEAN Community. Each ASEAN country will be invited to send a film to the event. The selected films will be translated into Vietnamese and submitted to an evaluation council. Themed “For an ASEAN of cohesion and proactive adaptation”, the film week is expected to enhance the role and position of Vietnam as the ASEAN Chair in 2020.

Brunei

Brunei foresees strong economy despite COVID-19 crisis, says minister Borneo Bulletin Online 21st Apr 2020
Brunei Darussalam’s economy is forecast to be strong and able to record a respectable growth rate this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This is supported by development in various industries and in the agriculture sector in the Sultanate which have shown positive growth over the past two to three years. In its forecast early this year, IMF said for 2020, it has projected the country’s GDP growth at 4.7 per cent. In response, Brunei sees growth in both the oil and gas sector and in non-oil and gas sector. Based on its internal assessment, with the exception of few in the tourism sector, many can still continue to operate and people can still go to office and work.

Over 2,100 small business owners to get $300 for three months The Scoop 18th Apr 2020
Market vendors and small business owners will receive $300 for three months as part of the government’s economic relief measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. The financial aid is also extended to taxi drivers and tour guides whose source of income has been affected since tourists cannot enter the country due to a travel ban imposed on March 24. A statement from the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) Secretariat said the $1.93 million payout will be distributed among 2,154 people identified by the council’s task force. The welfare assistance, which will start in April, is also rendered to non-Muslims. On April 13, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah in a titah announced that financial aid will be given to market stall operators, while acknowledging that small businesses and low-income workers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. The government last month unveiled a $450 million economic stimulus package to help businesses survive the downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with measures such as loan payment deferrals, wage subsidies and social security contributions. The MUIB welfare aid recipients are made up of small business owners, self-employed individuals and low-income workers officially registered under four ministries – Ministry of Home Affairs; Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism; Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS). The bulk of the financial aid will go to market vendors registered under the home affairs ministry, with $1.72 million to be distributed among 1,910 market vendors. A total of $72,900 will be shared between 81 tour guides, while $104,400 will be handed out to 116 taxi drivers, ride-sharing DART drivers and speedboat drivers registered with MTIC. Forty-seven small business owners under MCYS will receive a cumulative welfare assistance of $42,300.

Number of visitors from Brunei to Malaysia drops by 12pc in 2019 Borneo Bulletin 13th Apr 2020
The number of tourist arrivals from Brunei Darussalam to Malaysia saw a 12 per cent drop last year compared to 2018, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (Tourism Malaysia) figures revealed on Friday. Around 1,216,123 arrivals from Brunei were recorded from January to December 2019, compared to 1,382,031 in 2018. However visitors from Brunei Darussalam still maintained the top five international tourist arrivals to Malaysia. The school holiday period remained the popular period for Bruneians to visit Malaysia with March being the favourite with 126,620 Brunei visitors, followed by May with 110,873 and December with 108,857. However the past 12 months last year saw a drop in monthly visitors ranging from 0.1 per cent in February 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, to as high as 21.2 per cent in September 2019 compared to the same period earlier.

RB in dire straits with 95% of flights cut, staff put on compulsory leave The Scoop 1st Apr 2020
Royal Brunei Airlines could suffer hundreds of millions in lost revenue as the coronavirus pandemic poses an unprecedented crisis to the global airline and travel industry. Already reeling from a steep decline in bookings from China, travel restrictions around the world have led to a collapse in passenger demand for RB, with the Brunei government also banning all inbound and outbound travel to contain the spread of the virus within the sultanate. The airline has cut 95 percent of flights, only retaining four routes — Singapore, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Manila — to maintain essential trade connectivity for food, medical supplies and other consignments. The last week of March, the airline told its 1,750 employees that they would be required to take compulsory paid leave From April 1 to May 31, and only a small number of staff would be retained to operate the reduced flying programme. In 2018, the airline inked a substantial financing deal with Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam and Baiduri Bank to purchase eight new aircraft valued at list price for $1 billion. The fleet renewal was part of RB’s wider strategy to expand its network in East Asia and introduce a non-stop service to London.

Cambodia

Brand new port on the Tonle Sap for tourists and locals nears completion Khmer Times 27th Apr 2020
The new six-hectare port for a tourist terminal and market in Kampong Chhnang’s Baribour district, Chhnok Tru commune, has reached 55 percent completion, according to the Chhnok Tru commune chief. The new port, replacing a jetty, will serve the tourist terminal and provide a shopping area for farmers, fishermen, and people in the surrounding commune. According to Kimsorn, the development, after construction, will be home to fish stalls selling farmers’ produce and as a place for tourists to shop in the market. Also, nearby historical religious sites at the Kampong Preah temple complex are within easy distance.

Cambodia offers tax exemption for tourism services The Cambodia Daily 22nd Apr 2020
The Cambodian government on April 21 announced a three-month tax exemption for hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and travel agencies in Phnom Penh and several provinces as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country’s tourism industry hard. Secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism Tith Chantha said the move came in line with the government’s measures aimed at assisting the private sector and workers affected by the pandemic. The exemption takes effect from March to May this year, applicable for hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and travel agencies in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, Kep, Kampot, Bavet city and Poipet city, which are registered with the General Department of Taxation.

Cambodia Legal Update: New Instruction on Suspension of Employment Contracts and NSSF Contribution Payments for Certain Enterprises Seriously Impacted by COVID-19 Lexology 22nd Apr 2020
To help the private sector and employees severely affected by Covid-19, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (“MLVT”) issued Instruction No. 045/20, dated 17 April 2020, on suspension of employment contracts and contribution payments for the National Social Security Fund (“NSSF”) for enterprises in the garment and tourism sectors who are seriously impacted by COVID-19 (“Instruction 045/20”). Instruction 045/20 aims to provide support for the private sector, in addition to existing mechanisms, in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for the garment sector and the tourism sector within the territories of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, Kep and Kampot (including hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and travel agents), facing a shortage of raw materials or having no orders or no export markets or no customers for services or facing any particular difficulty leading to suspension of production activity or business temporarily.

Cambodia NOC President leads Chinese delegation on visit to new sports complex Inside the Games 20th Apr 2020
Thong Khon, the President of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, welcomed a delegation from China on a visit to a new sports facility in capital Phnom Penh. The Morodok Techo National Sports Complex is currently under-construction for Cambodia's hosting of the Southeast Asian Games in 2023. It will include a 75,000-seater stadium for athletics and football, a swimming complex and an indoor arena which will hold 15,000 people. Khon, who is also Cambodia's Minister of Tourism, led the Chinese group who are involved in the complex's construction.

Cambodia’s tourism to take longer to recover from pandemic The Cambodia Daily 10th Apr 2020
Cambodia’s tourism, which is the most vulnerable industry from the spread of coronavirus, will see a slower recovery than other sectors after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, according to Chhay Sivlin, President of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents. She told Khmer Times that tourism activity will not return to normal soon because it is a global crisis and it’s related to people’s feelings. People will need time to save money they lost during the crisis”. It will take at least half to one year for people to start taking holidays while long-haul tourism could take longer, she said.

Further fiscal woes for tourism sector Khmer Times 7th Apr 2020
The Government on Tuesday announced the suspension of the annual Khmer New Year celebration, in a bid to stop the spread of the Novel Coronavirus. The move will spell further fiscal woes for the already embattled tourism industry. Speaking during a press conference, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the decision was made in a bid to avoid “cluster infections”, caused by large gatherings in local communities. Cambodia is following the Thai government’s lead, which also postponed the country’s Songkran festivals.

Indonesia

Bali sees almost 100 percent drop in foreign tourists The Jakarta Post 25th Apr 2020
Bali has seen an almost 100 percent decrease in foreign tourist arrivals in April amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Bali Deputy Governor Tjokorda Oka Sukawati said Bali was one the region’s hardest hit by the pandemic in Indonesia, as around 60 percent of its gross regional product (PDRB) comes from tourism. According to Indonesian Tourist Industry Association (GIPI) data, Bali had recorded an 11 percent increase in foreign tourist arrivals in January. However, the number dropped 18 percent in February after flights from China were cancelled. The number then dropped 42.32 percent in March, as countries in Europe as well the United Kingdom and South Korea restricted flights to Bali. In April, the decrease was even more drastic, with foreign tourist arrivals down 93.24 percent. All in all, the potential losses experienced by the tourism and meeting, incentives, conferencing and exhibition (MICE) sectors in Bali are estimated to be more than Rp 9 billion (US$628,367).

Labour crunch threatens Indonesia’s tourism recovery, says trade TTG Asia 22nd Apr 2020
As Indonesia moves to restart its tourism engine, industry stakeholders worry that talent shortage may pose a key threat to the country’s tourism recovery, as the pandemic has left massive furloughs and layoffs in its wake. Those concerns come in response to the Indonesian government’s recent call for travel trade players to start laying the groundwork for their recovery now, as it anticipates a tourism boom once the pandemic blows over. Speaking on a virtual forum, Udhi Sudiyanto, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA) Yogyakarta chapter, said that many tourism workers had gone without pay or had their salaries cut, and many were forced to look for alternative jobs.

Hotels in Bali may start reopening in May as island expects to welcome Chinese tourists in June Coconuts 22nd Apr 2020
Tourism players across the island will focus on getting through the COVID-19 pandemic before thinking of attracting tourists to Bali. Hotels in Bali are reportedly planning to start opening up doors in May, with tourism authorities also expecting to welcome Chinese tourists to the island by June following some optimistic outlook on the travel industry from Indonesian officials.  Last week, President Joko Widodo said he’s convinced that the COVID-19 pandemic will be resolved by the end of this year, further adding that he expects tourism to take off in 2021. The Indonesian government previously said it aims to attract travelers from countries which are recovering swiftly from the coronavirus outbreak, namely China, South Korea, and Japan, in the next couple of months. 

Tourism will take at least a year to recover from COVID-19 outbreak: Economists The Jakarta Post 6th Apr 2020
Indonesia's tourism sector, the industry hardest-hit by COVID-19, is projected to take a long time to recover, although the pandemic is expected to slow down in the third quarter this year, economists and business players estimate. Economist and director of the Center of Reform on Economics (CORE) Mohammad Faisal said the tourism sector really depended on the people’s psychology, and was very sensitive to safety and security aspects. In the recovery period, regaining people's trust to travel again after the pandemic would be a challenging task, he said. He predicted that COVID-19 would have a deeper impact than natural disasters, as people could not predict when the pandemic would be totally over. 

‘Booming’ tourism in 2021? Jokowi says he’s convinced COVID-19 pandemic will only last until end of year Coconuts 1st Apr 2020
President Joko Widodo says he’s convinced that the COVID-19 pandemic will be resolved by the end of this year and adds that he is expecting tourism to take off in 2021.  According to the president, this is high time for Indonesia to prepare for the massive boom after COVID-19, noting how people will be looking to travel after months of staying at home.  A similar sentiment was echoed by Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio, who says his ministry will work on renovating various facilities in the country’s top tourist destinations in preparation for the expected travel boom. The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) reported that as of April 13, more than 1,600 hotels in 31 provinces across Indonesia were forced to close due to the coronavirus outbreak. Most of the hotels are located in West Java and Bali. In Bali, the number of workers furloughed and laid off continue to increase, with officials recording more than 48,000 and 1,100, respectively.

Laos

Prime Minister Thongloun Advises Preparing Tourism Sector Laotian Times 28th Apr 2020
Lao Prime Minister Thongoun Sisoulith has advised the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism to use its time wisely in refurbishing and upgrading tourism sites in preparation for the country’s reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic. With the tourism sector in almost complete shutdown due to the pandemic, the PM’s suggestion is in line with advice given by the National Economic Research Institute (NERI), which submitted a report suggesting the government promote greater investment in tourism. The paper by NERI advised the government to use tourism downtime wisely by investing in the sector in preparation for future tourism by upgrading tourist attractions and boosting services to ensure they meet international standards.

Hotel and Restaurant Owners Discuss Concerns with DPM Laotian Times 28th Apr 2020
Hotel and restaurant owners have brought their concerns before the Deputy Prime Minister in relation to lockdown measures put in place during the coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment, Mr. Sonexay Siphandone, met with representatives of the Lao Hotel and Restaurant Association at the Landmark Riverside Hotel on 26 April. The DPM took note of the various concerns raised by the Lao Hotel and Restaurant Association and said that he would bring them before the Prime Minister in a specific meeting to address their issues. Lockdown in Laos could be lifted on 3 May if no new cases of Covid-19 are confirmed.

Laos celebrates new year under Covid-19 cloud - UCA News ucanews.com 20th Apr 2020
Millions of Buddhists in Laos are celebrating the New Year holiday at home as the communist nation struggles with the Covid-19 pandemic. President Bounnhang Vorachith wished people of all ethnic groups a happy Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year) on April 13 when the country began a three-day holiday welcoming the Buddhist era year 2563. The Southeast Asian nation of seven million people has been under lockdown since March 29 when Prime Minister Thongloum Sisoulith ordered a shutdown of all non-essential activities and travel to check the spread of the coronavirus. President Bounnhang thanked people of all ethnic groups, party cadres, officials, soldiers and police officers for supporting the country's economic progress. The new year will see the party and state focus on poverty reduction, the octogenarian leader said.

Vietnam helps Laos prepare for UNESCO recognition of national reserve VietnamPlus 6th Apr 2020
A working group of Vietnamese cultural heritage experts has been established by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to support Laos in compiling a dossier seeking UNESCO recognition of Hin Namno National Reserve as a World Natural Heritage Site. The reserve is located in Khammouane province, some 150km from Thakhek town in the southeast region of the country.

Luang Prabang tourist sites temporarily shut down The Star Online 5th Apr 2020
Luang Prabang officials recently announced the temporary closure of services at all tourist sites in the province from April 1 till April 21 to minimise the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak. Director of Luang Prabang Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Dr Soudaphone Khomthavong said yesterday that all tourist sites in the province were temporarily closed including the old royal palace national museum, Mount Phousi, Kuang Xi Falls, Ting Cave and other attractions.

2 China-Laos Railway bridges complete closure over Mekong River Macau Business 2nd Apr 2020
The Ban Ladhan Mekong River Super Major Bridge on Wednesday achieved its main section closure over the Mekong River, and thus, both the cross-Mekong bridges along the railway have completed its major engineering work.

Malaysia

AirAsia Malaysia starts flying again, passengers need to bring own masks The Star Online 29th Apr 2020
AirAsia returns to the skies with domestic flights in Malaysia starting April 29 but passengers will need to follow Covid-19 safety measures. Any guest without a mask will be denied boarding. AirAsia chief safety officer Captain Ling Liong Tien said the carrier is stepping up all precautionary measures to ensure a safe journey. Other Covid-19 safety measures include a baggage allowance of only one piece (instead of the usual two), not exceeding 7kg, and earlier arrival at the airport – at least three hours – before departure.

Covid-19: Budget hotels urge Malaysian government for law to help them stay open The Star Online 28th Apr 2020
The government needs to draft an act to protect hotel operators and owners from the impact of Covid-19, says the Malaysia Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA). Its national deputy president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel said the Special Relief Fund (SRF) announced by the government is "not friendly towards the hotel industry”. Under the SRF, RM5bil is allocated by the government to provide relief assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affected by the coronavirus crisis. Based on a survey involving 324 hotels in the country, Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said 15% might consider closing down permanently, with 35% considering a temporary closure.

Malaysia saw more tourists coming to Malaysia in 2019 The Star Online 27th Apr 2020
Malaysia welcomed 26,100,784 international tourists last year, contributing a total of RM86.14bil in tourist receipts to the country’s economy. The number of international tourists marked a small growth of +1.0%, compared to 25,832,354 tourist arrivals in 2018. Meanwhile, tourism performance also saw growth in terms of per capita expenditure, rising by +1.3% to RM3,300. Tourists stayed longer too with the average length of stay climbing by +0.9 nights to 7.4 nights. The top 10 international tourist arrivals last year were from Singapore (10,163,882), Indonesia (3,623,277), China (3,114,257), Thailand (1,884,306), Brunei (1,216,123), India (735,309), South Korea (673,065), Japan (424,694), the Philippines (421,908) and Vietnam (400,346).

More emphasis on Cuti-Cuti Malaysia to revive tourism sector The Star Online 23rd Apr 2020
PETALING JAYA: The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry will look into refocusing its efforts on promoting domestic tourism in an attempt to revive the sector. Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri (pic) said since the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 campaign was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there would be more emphasis on the Cuti-Cuti Malaysia campaign.

Malaysia Airlines needs government assistance NST Online 18th Apr 2020
Malaysia Airlines needs government financial support to ensure its readiness for the post Covid-19 period. The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) said the aviation industry sits at the core of the whole tourism ecosystem. He said this in response to a proposal by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, on the possible merger between Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia Group. He said countries worldwide were expected to bailout their respective national carriers. He said that airports in Malaysia registered a decline of 27.6 per cent with 18.4 million passenger movements. International and domestic passenger movements decreased by 32.4 per cent and 22.4 per cent respectively.

AirAsia announces resumption of domestic flights NST Online 17th Apr 2020
Low-cost carrier AirAsia is set to resume its scheduled domestic flights on April 29. It said this would be followed by resumption of domestic flights in Thailand and the Philippines on May 1; India (May 4) and Indonesia (May 7), subject to approval from the authorities. The resumption of services will initially be for selected key domestic routes, which will increase gradually to include international destinations around the network, once the situation improves and governments lift borders and travel restrictions. Flights are already open for booking via the airasia.com website and mobile app. Guests may use their credit accounts to redeem these flights. The AirAsia Group temporarily reduced or entirely suspended their flight operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In Malaysia, the airline temporarily suspended all flight services from March 28 onwards, with its long-haul flights subsidiary, AirAsia X, suspending most but not all flights.

Foreign tourist receipts at RM86.14bil in 2019 NST Online 12th Apr 2020
Foreign tourist receipts (expenditures) grew 2.4 per cent to RM86.14 billion from 26.10 million people who visited the country last year. Tourism Malaysia said foreign arrivals had increased by one per cent from 25.82 million tourists recorded in 2018. The top three distributions of tourist receipts went to shopping (33.6 per cent), accommodation (24 per cent) and food and beverages (13.3 per cent). Tourism Malaysia said shopping receipts had expanded. In terms of per capita expenditure, it rose 1.3 per cent to RM3,300 while the average length of stay (ALOS) climbed by 0.9 nights to 7.4 nights. Tourism Malaysia said top 10 international tourist arrivals for 2019 were Singapore (10.16 million) Indonesia (3.62 million) China (3.11 million), Thailand (1.88 million), Brunei (1.22 million), India (735,309), South Korea (673,065), Japan (424,694), the Philippines (421,908) and Vietnam (400,346).

Hotel industry feeling the brunt of the virus impact The Star Online 6th Apr 2020
Even before the MCO, businesses in the tourism, retail and hospitality sectors were already feeling the impact of Covid-19 as the number of cases began rising outside of China, sparking travel fears and restrictions. And then the Malaysian government, via the MCO which began on March 18, declared that hotels could no longer house new guests through the period, and that other services like spas would have to be closed. Room cancellations alone, due to Covid-19 fears, the MCO, and travel restrictions, have amounted to RM68mil with 170,085 room bookings cancelled, according to the Malaysian Association Hotels (MAH). This is aside from the loss of revenue from new bookings over the 28-day MCO period, and potentially beyond this period, given the possibility of a further extension of the MCO. Stressing just how bad things are in the hotel scene, the MAH says 2,041 hotel employees have already been laid off due to economic pressures and the extended MCO, while 9,773 had been given unpaid leave and another 5,054 taken pay cuts as at the end of March 2020.

Malaysia airline industry could lose US$3.32b in revenue due to Covid-19 crisis, IATA says The Edge Markets 3rd Apr 2020
The Malaysian aviation industry could see a 39% fall in demand, involving an estimated 25.49 million passengers, arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In a statement on April 3, IATA urged Asia-Pacific states to take urgent action to provide financial support to their airline industry impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. Commenting on Malaysia, it said the country’s airline industry faces an estimated US$3.32 billion loss in revenue, affecting some 169,700 jobs. IATA said the potential impact on the Malaysian gross domestic product was a loss of US$3.79 billion. IATA said major Asia-Pacific states could see passenger demand in 2020 reduced by between 34% and 44%. In its latest analysis, IATA expects airlines to post a net loss of US$39 billion during the second quarter ending June 30, 2020.

IATA: RM14.4b revenue loss for Malaysia’s aviation industry due to travel restrictions Malay Mail 3rd Apr 2020
Malaysia will likely see its passenger demand reduced by 39 per cent this year with losses in revenue reaching US$3.317 billion (RM14.4 billion) if severe travel restrictions due to Covid-19 lasted for three months, International Air Transport Association (IATA) said. Its regional vice president Asia-Pacific Conrad Clifford said 169,700 potential jobs would be impacted by the travel restrictions and risked US$3.799 billion in the gross domestic product (GDP). The Asia-Pacific region as a whole he said, would see passenger demand decreased 37 per cent this year with losses in revenue totalling US$88 billion. Clifford said taxes, levies and airport and aeronautical charges for the industry should be fully or partially waived.

Grounded airlines in Malaysia take to the skies to help Covid-19 frontliners The Star Online 2nd Apr 2020
The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) said air travel in the country is predicted to decrease significantly due to the global outbreak of Covid-19. A revised estimate by the commission shows passenger traffic this year to be between 67.7 million and 69.7 million passengers, a considerable decrease from last year’s all-time high of 109.2 million passengers. Mavcom executive chairman Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi said the aviation sector is facing a huge blow during the crisis. Mavcom is also urging the government to consider relaxing ownership rules for airlines to allow easier sourcing of funds from domestic and international capital markets. Since the MCO, Malaysia Airlines has reduced its domestic frequencies and schedules. It is currently running at a minimum – mostly to facilitate essential travels and cargo movement. “Recently we transported two tonnes of face masks and personal protection equipment (PPE) from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu, as well as 300,000 pieces of disposable masks, 50,000 pieces of PPE and 8,000 pieces of PPE with eye mask, courtesy of the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation from Shanghai to Kuala Lumpur, ” said Izham. In the next few days, MABkargo will be flying in more than 10 million pieces of masks and ventilators from Shanghai and Guangzhou. Malaysia Airlines, Firefly and MASwings are facilitating movement of goods as well as medical staff across Peninsular Malaysia and within Sabah and Sarawak.

Myanmar

H&T Ministry seeks cooperation from private tourism sector to promote outbound services in post-COVID-19 period GNLM 28th Apr 2020
Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has sought cooperation from the tourism industries in preparation for tourism booming in the post-COVID 19 period as it has relaxed rules. Speaking at the digital meeting with regional authorities and representatives from the tourism industries, Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Ohn Maung said the ministry has exempted licence fees and renewable fees for businesses connected with the travel industry in efforts to heal the sufferings from COVID-19 crisis. The ministry also suspended the deadline for the paying the hotel rents and land lease fees to the State. The Union Minister urged the private tour operators to provide systematic services to the visitors.

Myanmar hotel industry receives another lifeline The Myanmar Times 23rd Apr 2020
The government will defer land lease payments for six months for a total of 47 state-owned and private hotels in Myanmar to ease the pressure wrought by COVID-19, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism announced on April 21. The next land lease payment is due September 30. Hotels which are no longer in operation are not included.

Myanmar economy still forecast to grow despite global recession: IMF The Myanmar Times 20th Apr 2020
Myanmar is among just 10 percent of the globe projected by the International Monetary Fund to post economic growth this year. The rest of the world is expected to slip into recession. Still, growth is forecast to slow considerably. In its April World Economic Outlook, the IMF slashed Myanmar’s 2020 growth forecast to 1.8pc from 6.4pc.  This would be Myanmar’s slowest growth rate since the junta handed over power to U Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government in 2011. The economy has already been hurt by the crisis, with the number of factories having shut down in Myanmar estimated to be around 40 and nearly 17,000 workers laid off or furloughed. Microfinance and other non-bank financial institutions have been instructed to allow borrowers to defer their repayments. On the business side, licence fees exemptions have been granted to hoteliers and traders, while a K100 billion soft loan was launched last month, targeting the most affected sectors - tourism and garments - as well as small and medium enterprises.

Companies to receive COVID-19 loans, but discrepancies hamper number of approvals The Myanmar Times 12th Apr 2020
The government has approved COVID-19 loans for 88 businesses at an interest rate of 1 percent, according to the Union of Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI). But the UMFCCI received more than 1600 applications for the loan on the April 9 deadline. According to U Naung Naung Han, chair of the Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneurs Association, there are discrepancies between most of the applicants’ financial reports and the loan amounts they are asking for, which has made it difficult for the authorities to approve loans for the majority of applicants.  He said most tour companies are applying for loans under K50 million, while some hotels require loans of K100 million or more, depending on the number of employees.

Quarantine period increased to 21, commercial flight arrivals suspended until April 30: DASSK The Myanmar Times 11th Apr 2020
Those who test positive for COVID-19 will now be quarantined for 21 days, up from 14 days before, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi announced on her Facebook account on April 10. All international commercial flight arrivals have also been suspended until April 30. This supercedes a March 29 announcement from the Ministry of Health and Sports and Department of Civil Aviation, disallowing all international commercial passenger flights from landing at all Myanmar airports from March 30 to April 13.

Philippines

DOT: New normal to reduce visitors at tourist sites philstar.com 28th Apr 2020
Devastated by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, the Philippine tourism industry is looking at ways of resuming operations while still observing precautions to prevent COVID-19 infections. A possible “new normal” being eyed for the industry is a reduction in the number of visitors to be accepted at tourist sites, particularly top destinations like Boracay. Other possible measures include filling a tourist bus only at half its capacity and limiting seating in restaurants, especially in popular buffet establishments. Department of Tourism (DOT) spokesman Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. admitted that such measures would have “cost implications” and affect the revenue stream of tourist-related businesses.

Tourism revenue, arrivals both decline over 40% Business World 28th Apr 2020
The Department of Tourism (DoT) said tourism revenue fell 40.62% year on year in the first quarter. Tourism Secretary Bernadette T. Romulo-Puyat said revenue for the three months to March totaled P79.8 billion, after a 40.2% decline in visitor arrivals during the quarter to 1.31 million. Ms. Romulo-Puyat said the DoT will launch the Tourism Response and Recovery Program to aid the industry. The program will observe a moratorium on the collection of accreditation fees from new and renewing applicants; provide incentives for domestic tourism; extend interest-free loans for businesses; and provide amelioration assistance for displaced workers, among others. The DoT also implemented an online training program for workers and developed an application known as Maze, which is designed “to address the congestion of people in essential places by crowdsourc(ed) information on the crowd status of a specific area.”

Lockdown brings P7-B monthly losses to local airlines — ACAP Business World 27th Apr 2020
Airlines in the Philippines suffer losses of P7 billion per month of lockdown apart from their accumulated losses of around P4 billion from travel refunds because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (ACAP) said. ACAP is composed of Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL), Cebu Air, Inc. (Cebu Pacific), Philippines AirAsia, Inc., Air Philippines Corp. (PAL Express), and Cebgo, Inc. In its recent estimates, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said local airlines in the Philippines will see their passenger revenues drop by $4.481 billion this year as it expects passenger demand to decline by 47%.

DOT Offers Online Enhanced Opportunity Training for Tourism Stakeholders Department of Tourism-Philippines 20th Apr 2020
The Department of Tourism (DOT) has launched an online training program for the country's tourism stakeholders to stay relevant, learn to cope with the difficulties arising from the global pandemic novel coronavirus or COVID–19, and to facilitate transition to recovery. DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo–Puyat said the program dubbed DOT Online Training is done via Zoom video–conferencing and offers the stakeholders an option to use their time productively during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which has been extended to April 30. The tourism chief added that the course covers two subject areas: 1) Tourism Enterprise which involves monitoring, evaluating and learning from past and present situations to enable tourism stakeholders to prepare better for the future; and 2) Filipino Brand of Service which applies the seven Filipino values or "7Ms" that characterize Filipino hospitality.

24,836 Hotel Rooms Reserved for OFW's Quarantine, BPO Staff Use - DOT Chief Department of Tourism-Philippines 20th Apr 2020
Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo–Puyat confirmed that as of 07 April, 2020, the DOT has secured a total of 11,549 hotel rooms for the accommodation of homebound overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are required to undergo the 14–day quarantine upon their arrival to the country. Meanwhile, Business Processing Outsource (BPO) employees are currently billeted at some 13,287 hotel rooms located in NCR. Based on the Administrative order 2020–001B issued by Secretary Puyat , BPO employees fall under the category of "other guests" that may be accommodated in double occupancy rooms. Secretary Puyat added that at least 209 hotels have participated to date, 160 of which are in Metro Manila and which have accommodated some 5,289 OFWs who have arrived the past several days.

Rent relief for airport tenants extended to April 30\ Business World 16th Apr 2020
Secretary Arthur P. Tugade has instructed airport authorities to extend the rental holiday for airport concessionaires until April 30. Mr. Tugade’s order covers all airports managed by the government. President Rodrigo R. Duterte extended the Luzon-wide lockdown to the end of the month, pending containment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In March, Mr. Tugade ordered the Manila International Airport Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to suspend rental payments at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for that month and defer collection of such charges for the following month.

IATF backs lifting of deployment ban on health staff with contracts BusinessMirror 14th Apr 2020
Filipino medical workers with already existing contracts may soon be allowed to work abroad. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Monday recommended the lifting of the deployment ban imposed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for 14 medical occupations. Under the recommendation, those with existing perfected employment contracts will be able to leave. On April 2, 2020, the POEA governing board issued Resolution No. 9, series of 2020, temporarily suspending the deployment of OFWs under 14 medical occupations, including doctors and nurses, until the lifting of the national state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus disease.

OFWs, outsourcing workers to live in hotel rooms Business World 9th Apr 2020
The Department of Tourism (DoT) will use more than 24,000 hotel rooms to house outsourcing employees and Filipino workers who have come home from overseas. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Wednesday said 11,549 hotel rooms were ready for OFWs who need to be quarantined once they arrive, while 13,287 hotel rooms in Metro Manila were accommodating business process outsourcing workers. As of April 7, at least 209 hotels mostly in Metro Manila have offered their rooms.

Airlines in Philippines Seek Credit Aid as They Fight to Survive Bloomberg.com 31st Mar 2020
Airlines in the Philippines are asking for credit relief and a longer reprieve from fees, saying government intervention is needed as the industry faces an “existential threat.” Philippine Airlines Inc., Cebu Air Inc., the local unit of AirAsia Group Bhd and other members of the nation’s Air Carriers Association or ACAP halted all passenger operations for a month until April 14 on the government’s lockdown order. This translates to 30,000 canceled flights affecting 5 million passengers. Airlines are seeking a credit guarantee from the government to back their loans to remove banks’ aversion to the risks of the industry, an emergency credit line for 6 months and a longer-term facility to ensure recovery.

Singapore

Singapore visitor arrivals in March lowest since Sars outbreak in 2003 The Straits Times 29th Apr 2020
The number of arrivals last month represents an 85 per cent year-on-year drop, according to figures published by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on the Singapore Tourism Analytics Network website. The last fall of this magnitude was during the peak of the Sars, outbreak in April and May 2003, when Singapore received 217,000 visitors and 191,000 visitors respectively. Figures show that Indonesia was the top source of visitors with about 46,500 arrivals, followed by the United Kingdom with 20,600 and Australia with 18,700.

Coronavirus: SIA extends flight cuts to May; Jetstar Asia to fly to 3 cities The Straits Times 21st Apr 2020
The vast majority of Singapore Airlines (SIA) planes will stay grounded next month as it extends the cancellation of its flights - slashed by about 96 per cent in late March - in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This marks a one-month extension to the wide-ranging flight cuts that were announced late last month, amid a plunge in demand for air travel and sweeping border closures to international flights. SIA said yesterday that it will continue to fly to just 15 cities, such as Bangkok, Los Angeles and Frankfurt. It also slightly increased the frequency of flights on a few routes.

Cruise ships to be assessed for use as temporary accommodation for foreign workers Singapore Tourism Board 20th Apr 2020
The government is studying the feasibility of using the SuperStar Gemini and the SuperStar Aquarius, two mid-sized cruise ships, as temporary accommodation for foreign workers who have recovered from COVID-19 and tested negative for the virus. If deemed feasible, the two cruise ships may be used to complement other interim facilities such as SAF military camps and vacant HDB blocks. Cruise ships are being considered as they have readily available rooms and en-suite toilets to minimise person-to-person contact. If deemed suitable, both ships may accommodate up to 2,000 foreign workers and will be activated only if there is a need to supplement other temporary accommodation facilities.

Support for businesses and individuals to defray third-party professional cleaning and disinfection costs for premises with confirmed COVID-19 cases | STB Singapore Tourism Board 20th Apr 2020
With effect from 1 April 2020, owners or managers of premises with confirmed COVID-19 cases can apply for assistance to defray part of the cleaning and disinfection costs. Under the new government assistance scheme, the National Environment Agency (NEA), Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will co-fund 50 per cent of the third-party professional cleaning costs incurred by owners or managers of premises. Since March 2020, the government agencies have defrayed 100% of the certification fees for the SG Clean quality mark, and will continue to waive the certification fees for more than 32,000 premises this year, as well as continue to support their re-certification in 2021 at no cost, for premises to maintain good cleanliness and hygiene standards. At the same time, eligible companies that apply for the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) for environmental services equipment/ solutions will receive enhanced support of up to 80 per cent of the qualifying cost of the equipment/ solution, capped at $350,000 per company.

Coronavirus: Hotels among lodgings being used to house foreign workers from dormitories The Straits Times 17th Apr 2020
Hotels are among the alternative lodgings used to house foreign workers, even as the Government tackles the increasing number of them who are testing positive for Covid-19 at dormitories across the island. The Singapore Tourism Board's (STB) director of hotel and sector manpower, Ms Tan Yen Nee, said the move will help reduce the spread of Covid-19 at existing foreign worker dormitories by reducing the number of people there. The STB did not specify how many hotels and which ones are being used to house foreign workers from dormitories.

Aviation sector commits to filling over 17,500 training places The Straits Times 6th Apr 2020
All major firms in Singapore's aviation sector have committed to sending their workers to fill more than 17,500 training places as the industry grapples with the suspension of flights due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said yesterday. Top officials from Singapore Airlines, Scoot, SIA Engineering Company and airport and food services provider Sats affirmed this at a closed-door dialogue last Friday with NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng. These companies will use the downtime to speed up workers' training and upgrading, including for professionals, managers and executives in the sector, "developing real technical capabilities and capacities" through the use of digital technologies, NTUC said in a statement.

Flights won't recover by next year says Singapore - as it closes airport terminal The Sun 6th Apr 2020
Singapore is closing their main airport's terminal for 18 months as they warn that the travel industry won't recover until next year. Changi Airport, one of the largest in the world, will see terminal 2 closed from May 1 until the end of 2021. All operations from the terminal will now take place at the other three terminals to "save on running costs".

Coronavirus: Aviation sector commits to filling over 17,500 training spaces, says NTUC The Straits Times 5th Apr 2020
All major firms in Singapore's aviation sector have committed to sending their workers to fill more than 17,500 training places as the industry grapples with the suspension of flights due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said on Sunday (April 5). Top officials from Singapore Airlines (SIA), Scoot and airport and food services provider Sats affirmed this at a closed-door dialogue on Friday with NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng. These firms would use the downtime to speed up workers' training and upgrading, including for professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) in the sector, "developing real technical capabilities and capacities" through the use of digital technologies, NTUC said in a statement.

Singapore residents returning from ASEAN countries, France, India and Switzerland must self-isolate at hotels CNA 4th Apr 2020
Singapore residents returning from ASEAN countries, France, India and Switzerland must self-isolate for 14 days at dedicated facilities, in an expansion of the stay-home notice requirements to include more countries. This will apply to Singaporeans, permanent residents and long term pass holders returning from Apr 5 at 11.59pm, announced the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Saturday (Apr 4). Previously, only those returning from the United States and the United Kingdom needed to serve their stay-home notice at dedicated facilities.

Thailand

THAI will borrow to survive, remain state enterprise Bangkok Post 29th Apr 2020
Thai Airways International (THAI) will borrow money to survive the coronavirus crisis, and will remain a state enterprise, the Finance Ministry announced on Wednesday. A source at Government House said the cabinet would lift its restriction on the Finance Ministry acting as loan guarantor, specifically to save Thai Airways. The ministry is barred from guaranteeing loans for any state enterprise that has posted losses for three years in a row.

6 million unemployed in tourism alone - a stark outlook for Thailand's tourist industry The Thaiger 29th Apr 2020
Up to 6 million people are expected to lose their jobs in the tourism sector alone as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Tourism is a critical industry for the Thai economy that accounts for between 15-18% of the country’s GDP in direct income, and up to 21% when you include all the other businesses that rely on the flow of tourists. Half-completed hotels and condos are likely to remain unfinished and the rest of the country’s accommodation offerings will be battling for slim pickings for at least the rest of this year and probably well into 2021. The country’s MICE industry (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions), already battling with the high Thai baht and uncompetitive meetings and convention landscape, will likely be almost non-existent well into next year. Tourism makes up 21.6% of Thailand’s GDP.

Scheduled passenger flight ban extended until end of May The Thaiger 27th Apr 2020
The inbound passenger flight restriction is now going to be extended another 31 days, until the end of May, whilst more repatriation flights for Thai citizens will continue this week. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand says they will extend the ongoing ban, currently scheduled to end on April 30. The first of the temporary closures was announced on April 4.

Thailand turns to China to revive post-Covid tourist economy The Thaiger 26th Apr 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has crushed Thailand’s tourism sector, long considered a lifeline for the nation’s already battered economy, as numbers of foreign visitors have dropped below even the worst predictions plunging 76.4% in March from last year after a 42.8% drop in February. But with infection rates flattening in Thailand since early April, hopes are high in segments of the tourism industry, that the easing of some rules under the national state of emergency in the coming weeks might bring some relief to the travel economy. When borders open and international travel bans are lifted, China will almost certainly resume its dominant role in Thailand’s inbound tourism sector. How this major feeder market for Thailand (and many destinations around the world), is expected to begin travelling again will offer strategies for those suffering through today’s crisis.

TAT expects 16m international tourists Bangkok Post 22nd Apr 2020
Thailand is likely to close this year with only 16 million international tourists and 60 million domestic trips, far below the pre-coronavirus targets of 40 million and 172 million respectively, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The estimates have the country losing almost 24 million tourists and 1.9 trillion baht in revenue compared with last year, which saw arrivals soar to 39.8 million and revenue climb to 1.93 trillion baht. Meanwhile, domestic tourism will likely plunge to 60 million trips from 167 million last year, with receipts down to 380 billion baht from 1.08 trillion baht in 2019. Combining domestic with international receipts -- projected at only 740 billion baht -- total revenue this year is set to drop by 62.8% to 1.12 trillion baht from 3.01 trillion baht last year.

Business News: China to lead Thailand tourism revival, say experts The Phuket News Com 20th Apr 2020
The newly released China Thailand Travel Sentiment Survey 2020, conducted in mid-April by C9 Hotelworks and Delivering Asia Communications, focused on key demand factors in the country’s reopening of the tourism economy. A strong positive message from the research is that 71% of Chinese consumers said they would like to visit Thailand, the report says. Commenting on the road to tourism recovery C9 Hotelworks Managing Director Bill Barnett said, “We expect Thailand’s reopening trajectory to initially be dominated by the domestic storyline but move quickly into inter-regional travel punctuated by the outbound China sector who are ready and willing to visit the country as demonstrated by the survey results.”

Eight airlines to meet Minister Uttama on loans The Nation Thailand 20th Apr 2020
Eight domestic airlines prepared for discussions with the Finance Ministry on April 20 on seeking soft loans to keep their businesses afloat after complying with the government’s request not to lay off 30,000-50,000 employees in the airline industry amid the Covid-19 crisis. Official measures regarding future business operations will be announced Wednesday.

CAAT extends flight ban Bangkok Post 15th Apr 2020
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has extended its inbound flight ban to April 30 except repatriation flights and some others for Covid-19 control. The ban spares state and military aircraft, aircraft making emergency landing and aircraft making technical landing without disembarkation. Humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights as well as repatriation and cargo flights are also exempted from the ban.

Nearly 190, 000 dismissed tourism workers join preemployment card program The Jakarta Post 13th Apr 2020
Nearly 190,000 former tourism workers will join the government’s preemployment card program, which was established to help terminated employees find new jobs, a minister has said. The data on people who previously worked in hotels and other tourism-related companies across Indonesia is taken from related business associations and organizations, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio said in Jakarta on Sunday. According to the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister, which spearheads the national committee for job creation, the preemployment program had garnered 1.4 million applicants just a day after registration opened on Saturday.

Foreigners' visas automatically extended Bangkok Post 9th Apr 2020
The government approved a plan on Wednesday to allow all foreigners who entered legally to receive automatic visa extensions, to prevent long queues at immigration centres and slow the spread of the coronavirus. The automatic visa extension has been granted until April 30, according to an interior ministry document.

Hungry times at Thailand's elephant sanctuaries as coronavirus hits tourism Reuters 6th Apr 2020
In a normal season, the Taweechai Elephant Camp in the western province of Kanchanaburi would welcome more than 100 tourists per day, mostly from Russia and European countries. Each tourist would spend around $30 to $150 for different activities, such as riding or feeding elephants. But now there is only money going out, and no money coming in. Feeding the camp’s 25 elephants, and paying the mahouts and other staff costs around 1 million baht ($30,395) a month, according to owner Dumrong Longsakul. The camp is one of many animal sanctuaries that depend on the millions of tourists visiting Thailand from around the world each year, and in all there are an estimated 2,000 elephants involved in the tourism industry.

THAI Smile to halt domestic flights from Tuesday Bangkok Post 3rd Apr 2020
THAI Smile Airways will temporarily suspend all domestic flights from Tuesday until the end of the month, the airline said on Friday. The airline said it decided to cease operating on all domestic routes until April 30 in line with government restrictions on travel in the campaign against the spread of the coronavirus.  Thai AirAsia has suspended all international services until April 25 and domestic flights until April 30. Bangkok Airways halted international services from March 22 until further notice. It also reduced domestic flights and temporarily closed its lounges at Suvarnabhumi and other airports. Nok Air has suspended services from Bangkok to Nanning, Chengdu, Hiroshima and Yangon until April 30. Direct flights from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City will be halted until May 31. Thai Lion Air has suspended all domestic and international flights until April 30.

Vietnam

Foreign tourist arrivals down 37.8 percent in first four months VietnamPlus 29th Apr 2020
Only 3.7 million foreign tourists visited Vietnam in the first four months of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a year-on-year decline of 37.8 percent, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO). In April alone, the number was a mere 262,000, down 94.2 percent compared to March and 98.2 percent against April 2019. After applying social distancing measures, many domestic tourist destinations have now been re-opened to welcome guests and have introduced promotional programmes, especially on the occasion of Reunification Day on April 30 and International Labour Day on May 1. Tourism and accommodation establishments are, however, still applying preventative measures recommended by the Ministry of Health.

New community tour sites to be built in Da Nang VietnamPlus 29th Apr 2020
The central city of Da Nang has piloted the three first community-based tourism sites in suburban Hoa Vang district as rural ethnic and farm experience attractions in the Master Plan 2025-2030. The city said the three sites feature the traditional culture of Co Tu ethnic minority people and old-style rural villages. Rural lifestyle, farm experience and farm stay services have been developed at the village for hosting tourists from 2025.

Ministry prepares plans on recovery of tourism market VietnamPlus 27th Apr 2020
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has announced plans to quickly restart the tourism market as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic ends. The ministry will focus on stimulating the domestic tourism market and coordinating with airlines, transport and travel firms to exempt or reduce service fees, including air tickets, accommodation costs and visiting fees. The ministry will also implement the "Safe Vietnam Tourism" programme and a domestic tourism stimulus programme with the cooperation of localities, transport and travel companies. Vietnam will launch a communication campaign "Vietnam NOW - Safety and Smiling" – a tourism stimulus programme with preferential packages for domestic and Asian tourists. The industry will restructure the international tourist markets to Vietnam and focus on promoting travel to countries without the pandemic, especially for business travel.

Most tourism firms forecast 80 per cent revenue drop vietnamnews.vn 22nd Apr 2020
More than three-quarters of tourism firms expect their revenue in the second quarter to fall more than 80 per cent from the same period last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a survey done by the Việt Nam Tourism Advisory Council (TAB) and the Private Economic Development Research Board with nearly 400 tourism and travel firms between April 13 and 17, 77 per cent of tourism and travel firms estimated the loss. The survey aimed to update the business situation of the industry and understand the difficulties of firms to report to the Government and make recommendations to help them recover after the pandemic.

Vietnam seeks to reopen all domestic flights from Thursday Reuters 21st Apr 2020
Vietnam’s civil aviation authority said on Tuesday it is seeking government approval to resume all domestic routes from Thursday after the expiry of a government order for seven more days of social distancing in some provinces. The authority proposed reconnecting flights from the capital Hanoi and business hub Ho Chi Minh City to other domestic destinations from April 23 and increasing the frequency of flights between three key routes.

A vital mangrove forest hidden in Vietnam’s largest city could be at risk Mongabay Environmental News 21st Apr 2020
The Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve covers 75,740 hectares (187,160 acres), and encompasses all of Can Gio district, the largest and one of the least populated of Ho Chi Minh City’s 24 districts. Can Gio sits between the central districts and the South China Sea, called the East Sea by Vietnam. While Can Gio’s core is very well-protected, there are areas of concern on its fringes. The design for the bridge linking the district to a neighboring district was approved last year. If built, this bridge would increase vehicle traffic, which largely uses one main road that runs from the ferry landing to the coast. Much larger plans have also been proposed, including an extravagant blueprint from Japan’s Nikken Sekkei Civil Engineering Limited. More immediate threats are shrimp farming, upstream pollution and erosion caused by the huge cargo ships that ply through Can Gio on their way to and from Ho Chi Minh City’s busy ports.

Vietjet offers Power Pass for unlimited flights in Vietnam TTG Asia 16th Apr 2020
Vietjet has launched the Power Pass, allowing its holders to take unlimited flights within Vietnam and plan their travels up to a year ahead, in a bid to boost travel demand as it reels from a plunge in air traffic. Normally, the airline operates nearly 300 flights daily covering 45 routes across the country.

Hà Nội halts $4 million tourism promotion package on CNN vietnamnews.vn 16th Apr 2020
Hà Nội has halted the 2019-24 tourism promotion package worth US$4 million with the US Cable News Network (CNN) due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The package will be rebooted at an appropriate time after the end of the pandemic, said the Director of Hà Nội Culture, Sports and Tourism Department Trần Đức Hải. Hải said CNN expressed goodwill towards Hà Nội’s proposal and took this as a matter of course as there are no tourists at all. “Our view is that we will negotiate and choose an appropriate time to continue this promotional package on CNN after WHO announces the end of the global epidemic.”

Airlines to increase flights from April 16 Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 16th Apr 2020
Domestic airlines on April 15 evening announced they are increasing flight frequency between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as from April 16, but the time difference between two consecutive landings in HCM City should be at least 90 minutes. Vietnam Airlines will operate two flights a day on the route, while maintaining one flight daily on the routes between Da Nang and Hanoi/HCM City.

90 per cent of travel firms suspend operations vietnamnews.vn 14th Apr 2020
More than 20,000 staff at hotels and tourist accommodations in HCM City were laid off or put on unpaid leave in the first quarter of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released by the municipal Department on Monday (April 13). Nearly 7,700 staff or 27 per cent of 28,000 workers at hotels and tourist accommodations in the city are working with reduction in working time, the report showed. Hotels and tourist accommodations reported a year-on-year decline of 58 per cent in turnover in the first quarter of the year.

Vietjet ensures flights during national social distancing vietnamnews.vn 14th Apr 2020
ietjet has operated regular daily flights and cargo flights to ensure sufficient goods for people and meet their flying demand during the national social distancing period, the airline announced on Tuesday. The carrier has been providing return flights betwwen Hà Nội and HCM City with two return flights on Tuesday and one round-trip per day on Monday and Thursday. It has also increased three flights connecting the two cities to transport passengers who have completed the mandatory quarantine period or have certificates of testing negative for COVID-19.

Saigon's Q1 foreign arrivals down 42 percent - VnExpress International VnExpress International 6th Apr 2020
The number of foreign arrivals in Ho Chi Minh City in Jan-March fell to 1.3 million, while tourism revenue hit VND25.5 trillion ($1.08 billion), down 26 percent over the same period last year, according to the municipal Tourism Department. Most tourist destinations have been deserted since the Lunar New Year holiday (January 24-29), with some sites reporting a 70 percent fall in visitor numbers, amid the coronavirus outbreak. HCMC received over 8.6 million foreign visitors last year, up 13 percent from a year ago.  Vietnam welcomed nearly 3.7 million foreign tourists in the first quarter, down 18.1 percent year-on-year, as the government suspended entry for all foreign nationals starting March 22, including those of Vietnamese origin and family members with visa waivers, and stopped all international flights from March 25 in an unprecedented response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vietnam wins ASEAN Tourism Awards VietnamPlus 31st Mar 2020
Two tourism products in Vietnam have been honoured at the ASEAN Tourism Awards Japan 2019 – an annual ceremony organised by the ASEAN-Japan Centre. The tour “Discover Vietnam in Style with Vietnam Airlines’ Business Class” offers tourists the chance to experience a stylish and luxury getaway across Vietnam over seven days. Meanwhile, the tour “Panoramic Experience in Vietnam” is designed for young, vibrant and active Japanese ladies.