Our review of the year included Thailand announcing a new tourist tax and the top scuba diving sites in Bali in part 1.
Plans were announced in Thailand to kickstart to tourism through the use of Vaccine Passports and the Open Thailand Safely Campaign was launched and called for a 1st July reopening as there were hopes that all travel restrictions could end in October and a four-phase reopening was being developed.
Main picture Singapore Street Art credit Sasha India on flickr
There were increasing calls to reopen the world famous home of “The Beach” Maya Bay and then finally there was confirmation that quarantine-free travel, of a sort, would return to Phuket from July with organisations in Samui and Bangkok calling for an end there too. To support the reopening of Phuket, new tourism safety standards were launched.
In sustainability news Singapore launched a number of green schemes and Bangkok had a sustainable tourism development. A new eco-tourism project was also announced in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and the Philippine government committed to plans to fully implement a Sustainable Tourism Development Project (STDP) for Coron and El Nido on Palawan. Southeast Asia fared badly overall however in a sustainable tourism report.
In environmental and wildlife news we reported on the forced closure of a Thai Tiger Park and a Koh Samui hotel that was helping to feed starving elephants and how British rock band Coldplay sponsored a river cleanup in Malaysia.
Southeast Asia is a haven for scuba diving and we looked at the Top 10 Diving Locations in Thailand.
In other features we reported on the Essence of Asia Best Restaurants, the Best Restaurants in Southeast Asia list, LGBTQ+ safety in Southeast Asia and how attractions in Bali, Singapore and Vietnam were all named among New Wonders of the World list and where the Best Places to Visit were for January.
We also featured to story of this writers Vietnam holiday that never was due to the pandemic.
Post-pandemic travel seemed to be changing as Thailand announced plans to target more wealthy tourists rather than mass numbers although as a complete contrast a new movie themed waterpark was announced. Hotels continued to struggle and many were closing during low-season for the first time.
Malaysia launced a series of new online travel guides
In environmental and sustainability news the UN raised concerns over a $3 billion project in Indonesia and how authorities in Vietnam were discussing ending UNESCO Geopark plans for Ly Son-Sa Huynh. In more positive news Phuket Save the Sea project was hailed as a success.
Khao Ta Pu (Ko Ta Pu ) more commonly known as “James Bond Island” is threatened by erosion. A rare sighting of around 30 Dugongs was reported off the coast of a Thai island and changes were being made at the iconic Maya Bay which had been closed since 2018 due to damage caused by tourism.
In airport and airline news there were more crew than passengers on a Singapore Airlines flight and Malaysia Airlines announced a sustainability blueprint designed to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and to promote socio-economic development. Changi Airport in Singapore announced the launch of the Safe Travel Concierge (STC) app for passengers arriving at the airport. Meanwhile Bamboo Airways announced plans for direct flights between Vietnam and the USA as well as key European destinations.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) raised concerns that Covid-19 testing requirements will slow the recovery of the tourism industry
We also published features on Thai Massage, scuba diving during the pandemic, Southeast Asia entries in the World’s 50 Best Foods, Hai Van Pass in Vietnam being named among the World’s Most Beautiful Drives, and street art in Singapore.
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