2021 Review Of The Year Part 2

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.

Maya Bay, Thailand credit Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

A family themed waterpark and resort was announced for Mui Ne in Vietnam and a new sleepless resort for Phu Quoc as there were hopes that the country could welcome back foreign tourists from July.

Singapore was looking to launch travel corridors with Australia and more widely from the second half of 2021 as it was named happiest place in Southeast Asia.

There were calls for Malaysia to reopen to vaccinated tourists but a new ban on foreign travellers was announced for the Philippines.

The tourist island of Bali in Indonesia launched a vaccination drive to allow the return of foreign tourists and was looking at increased medical tourism in the future.

Nusa Dua, Bali credit Dennis Van Dalen on Unsplash

In airline and airports news Thai Airways announced plans to slash jobs and planes and Philippines Airlines cut 2,300 employees.

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.

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines credit Nennnn on flickr

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.

Singapore announced three new tourism attractions and was named as World Cruise Leader and was working, again, to agree a travel bubble with Hong Kong.

New ice cream museum in Singapore

There were hopes that Indonesia would be able to reopen in July and hopes they could arrange travel corridors with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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.

Phuket Save The Sea Project credit Tourism Authority of Thailand

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 Vietnam there were plans for sustainable tourism projects in the centre of the country and an eco-tourism project and central square plan in Da Nang.

We covered Earth Day with features on a Thai Solar farm, face mask pollution in the Philippines and a series of other projects throughout Southeast Asia.

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.

Malaysia Airlines credit Riik@mctr on flickr

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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