Skift Breaking News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Tourism

Thailand Ups Visa Game by Granting Longer Stays to Tourists and Digital Nomads

1 month ago

Keen to offer a boost to the country’s tourism sector, Thailand will allow longer stays for foreign tourists from October 1 to March 31. The Southeast Asian destination has also proposed a 10-year golden visa program mainly targeted at wealthy digital nomads.

Foreign arrivals from 18 countries entering Thailand under the visa-on-arrival scheme, including India, will be allowed to extend their stay from 15 days to 30 days, while those from 50 countries, including Canada, U.S. and UK, who are currently eligible for a 30-day visa on arrival will be able to get a 45-day visa stamp.

From September onwards, Thailand will also be extending a 10-year golden visa option to four categories of travelers with an annual income of $80,000 and at least $1 million in assets. The visa also comes with a work permit and travelers would not need a Thai sponsor to live long-term in the country. 

The processing fee for the 10-year visa with multiple entries is around $1382.

The Thai government expects the 10-year residence visa to generate around $27 billion worth of revenue.

The visa extension is crucial as Thailand prepares to transition to a post-pandemic era with the return to normalcy. The visa programs are also timed perfectly with the Thai government planning to declare Covid-19 endemic in October.

Thailand plans to welcome around 10 million tourists this year and has been working hard to lure tourists back to the country. In its latest effort, Thailand had been looking to legalize casinos.

Thailand’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration will also meet next month to consider lifting the state of emergency, put in place to control the spread of the disease since March 2020.

Tourism

Efforts to Tame Overtourism Come Under Pressure

1 month ago

Covid gave Southeast Asia a break from overtourism. Now what?” That’s the question The Washington Post asked on Saturday.

Pandemic-related lockdowns and reduced tourism let many destinations take a break from heavy volumes of visitors. But now, many destinations are divided. Some want to preserve the benefits of lower tourist impact, such as wildlife recovery. Others want to discard many restrictions because they’re eager to max out the job-creating potential of their tourist landmarks and attractions.

Here are a few examples:

  • In Thailand, the ministry of natural resources and the environment has ordered the country’s 155 natural parks to shut down at least a month every year. The idea is to give nature a chance to heal from heavy visitor footfall and boat traffic. The decision came after the parks were closed for the first time in 2020.
  • In Indonesia, officials recently tried to limit visits to the ancient Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta to 15 at a time while also hiking prices for foreigners from $25 to $100 to pay for conservation. (The historic temple has nine stone tiers that support statues and relief panels of the Buddha.) Local opposition has since appeared, however, and the price hikes are now on pause.
  • Indonesia’s effort to raise prices on a heritage site and national park featuring Komodo Dragons has also stalled, Nikkei reported.
  • Before the pandemic, officials in the Philippines shuttered the island of Boracay for half a year and then reopened it with some restrictions. “But in April [of this year], Boracay exceeded its daily visitor cap multiple times,” the Post reported.

Overtourism is a term Skift came up with years before the pandemic. Overtourism continues to be a thorny challenge for the tourism industry during the recovery that Skift will continue to watch closely.

Covid gave Southeast Asia a break from overtourism. Now what?

Hotels

Asia-Pacific Hotel Investment Volumes Rose to $7 Billion in First Half of 2022

3 months ago

Investment in the hotel sector in Asia Pacific continued to recover as investment volumes totaled $6.8 billion in the first six months of 2022, according to real estate brokerage firm JLL’s report.

Capital deployment into the region’s hotels sector showed a return to pre-pandemic levels, registering a 12 percent increase compared to 2019.

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to experience a fast pace of recovery in the second half of 2022, Skift Research noted recently in its Asia Pacific Accommodation Sector Market Estimates 2022.

In terms of investment volume Japan received the maximum capital —  $1.8 billion, followed by Korea’s $1.7 billion, and Greater China, including Hong Kong ($1.6 billion).

A strong domestic and international tourism demand and the recent devaluation of the Japanese Yen would drive investors to acquire hotel assets in Japan, JLL noted.

JLL also expected further price reductions of hotel assets and forecasts China’s hotel transaction volume to total approximately $2 billion in 2022.

Strong recovery was witnessed in countries like Singapore ($899.7 million), Maldives ($205.5 million), and Indonesia ($159.6 million).

The activity was more subdued in Australia ($145.5 million) and Thailand ($37.7 million), however, JLL noted that these countries would witness greater investment in the second half as numerous marque deals would be closing.

More hotels are entering the Thai market as sellers are under pressure to sell, noted JLL and forecast that transaction volumes would reach close to $300 million this year.

While the 75 transactions in the first half of 2022, were down 33 percent compared to the first half of 2019, the 19,822 rooms transacted during the first half of 2022 was 30 percent higher compared to the first half of 2021 and 9.4 percent compared to 2019.

“The increase in deal activity was influenced by a spike in portfolio transactions as institutional investors sitting on dry powder seek to deploy their capital more efficiently,” the report noted.

However, according to JLL, ongoing momentum will likely be challenged by growing macroeconomic and geopolitical headwinds in the second half of 2022.

“We remain steadfast in our conviction that total Asia Pacific hotel investment volume will cross the $10 billion mark despite the scarcity of assets coupled with macro and geopolitical headwinds that will continue to influence capital activity,” said Mike Batchelor, CEO, Asia Pacific, JLL Hotels and Hospitality Group. 

Tourism

Thailand to Further Relax Entry Rules for Tourists on July 1

3 months ago

Thailand will end its requirement for pre-travel “Thailand Pass” registration for foreigners on July 1, its embassy has said. Proof of travel insurance, of at least $10,000 coverage for medical treatments,  will also no longer be mandatory.

However, they will still need to show proof of vaccination or a Covid-19 negative test result.

The tourism-reliant country has suffered over the past few years, and is taking a range of measures to kickstart its economy.

These include delisting cannabis as a narcotic drug, which while designed to boost medical and health purposes will also encourage more backpackers to its hedonistic beaches. It’s also extending the service hours of bars and pubs, according to reports.

The relaxation follows a similar lifting of rules that began June 1 for Thai nationals, who since that date are no longer required to register using the Thailand Pass. In May, the country lifted the requirement for vaccinated tourists to take a Covid-19 test before their arrival.

Other destinations including New Zealand and Egypt are also easing their requirements for foreign visitors.

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