It has been an incredibly busy month for general travel news despite the general lack of travel options for most.
We like to be glass half full here at Flyingdog Travel and we published our hopes for travel opening up in 2021.
News of a COVID Passport being developed by IATA could be a meaningful move to the opening of borders to many countries. While we wait for that to be launched we, tried, to explain the difference between travel bubbles, corridors and green lanes.
We published our first Travel Survey, looking at attitudes to travel now and in the future. We discovered that the pandemic had not changed the likelihood of 67% of people travelling in 2021 and 38% were already happy to start travelling.
We continued to monitor the Covid-19 situation throughout the Southeast Asia region and its impact on travel and tourism. We also added USA advisory information to the UK information already available and picked up on additional areas being made available, in theory, to travel from the UK.
Typhoons Batter The Region
The Philippines and Vietnam were hit by a series of storms throughout October and November leaving hundreds dead, crops and buildings destroyed and relief workers battling to reduce the long term effects.
The month started with Goni killing at least 19 people in the Philippines before moving on to Vietnam. This was followed by Storm Vamco which, thankfully, spared Vietnam from more major destruction, but only after 67 fatalities in the Philippines.
Airlines Continue to Suffer
Covid-19 continues to cause massive issues for the airline industry and that has not spared airlines in Southeast Asia.
We continued to monitor flight prices to Southeast Asia and expanded our coverage to include flights from the UK, USA, Australia and Hong Kong. we also looked at the busiest routes in the region and where has been hit especially hard.
Thai Airways looked to boost internal numbers by offering special flights allowing passengers to fly over significant Buddhist temples and monuments.
Singapore Airlines have found the last few months especially hard as they do not have a domestic schedule to fall back on.
They announced the retirement of a number of planes following a record loss caused by the lockdown.
Garuda Indonesia started the month by announcing 700 job losses and then the Indonesian government announced the intention to create a massive tourism business that would merge a number of key businesses including Garuda.
In Vietnam VietJet Air and Bamboo Airways both asked for government loans to help them through the pandemic. In more positive news Bamboo Airways announced plans to launch non-stop flights to the USA once the pandemic is over.
Finally, Cathay Pacific, a major airline serving the region, faced the threat of employee contract issues and the potential loss of routes.
Cambodia issued a Covid warning after an increase of cases linked to a diplomatic visit to the country.
There were also plans unveiled for a massive but controversial $350 million resort on the doorstep of Angkor Wat and for a new programme to encourage the return of tourists to the country in a safe way.
Indonesia announced plans for a widespread vaccination programme once vaccines were approved.
The Indonesian state of Bali was rumoured to be planning on a quick return for tourists and to launch more medical tourism but then were battling proposals to ban alcohol which would have a massive impact on tourism.
We covered a number of stories and features focused on the Land of Smiles during November.
We looked to the re-opening of tourism by selecting our top things to do in Phuket.
The big story was probably the launch of the Tourist Visa, making travel to the country open to more people than the few coming via the Special Tourist Visa. We covered all the Visa options for foreign travellers as well as the news that Thailand had been placed into the lowest level advice for American travellers.
There were also calls to reduce the quarantine period from 14 days and even to abolish it all together for some travellers on the back of just 1,200 foreign arrivals in October. We also saw news of a new phone app for travellers or even a smart band but also concern that 2022 could be another tough year for the tourism industry in the country as the Emergency Decree was extended into January.
Vietnam are planning for a return to mass travel with the announcement that a major new airport will be built near to Ho Chi Minh City, due to open by 2025.
Vietnam has so far welcomed 73% less tourists than in the same period in 2019 as the tourism sector is hit with the long term effects of the lockdown. An added concern has been the numbers of illegal crossings of the border which may result in more Covid-19 cases.
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