Reopened Asian Destinations Dangle New Incentives to Win Back Tourists

Skift Take

The destinations are trying to fill the Chinese void by attracting international tourists with incentives. And while we’ll have to wait to see how effective these schemes turn out, travelers should definitely make the most of them.

Peden Doma Bhutia

Asian destinations may have started late in the rush to ease restrictions, but this is likely not holding them back as they are serious about catching up with the rest of the world.

While reports like Skift Research’s Travel Health Index from the past two months find that Asia continues to remain an outlier in the steady recovery of the global travel industry, destinations are eager to change that.

And everyone seems to have a plan to win back the tourists. Some have adopted the flexible visa regime, some are offering great value for money while others are dangling a hard-to-resist carrot in the form of free airline tickets.

Although an Asian recovery is incomplete without China’s reopening and destinations are well aware of the current geopolitical and economic headwinds, most are confident in their ability to attract travelers for both leisure and business.

One of the latest destinations to announce the abolition of the institutional quarantine, until September 26, Hong Kong recently announced that it plans to give away 500,000 airline tickets, worth $ 255 million once the city-state removes the remaining restrictions. Covid, which could be by early 2023.

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A few days before Hong Kong’s announcement, Japan announced it would fully reopen on October 11, allowing independent tourists to enter visa-free.

Will the falling yen boost Japan’s tourism sector?

Hoping to benefit from the unexpected gains brought by the yen’s recent decline to a 24-year low against the dollar, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to increase inbound tourism spending to more than $ 34.5 billion a year.

However, Sharad Sharma, co-founder of Nippon Taiyo Hospitality, noted that the yen’s decline may not do much good as the global economy has been hit and inflation is at its peak. “Air fares to Japan are also at the highest level,” he added

The Japanese government also launched a national travel initiative this month by offering discounts on transportation and accommodation, similar to its 2020 Go To Travel campaign.

Ambitious, considering the country’s hospitality industry is infamous for its low wages. Business units will find it difficult to attract back employees who have moved on to other, higher-paying sectors.

A sentiment echoed by Sharad Sharma, co-founder of Nippon Taiyo Hospitality as he turned his attention to the disrupted supply chain in the hospitality industry that Japan has struggled with.

SmartRyde, a ride-hailing app in Japan, predicts a threefold increase in business, and the number of airport transfers it is receiving confirms this, said Sota Kimura, its CEO.

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But not before Kimura added a disclaimer: “Unfortunately, geopolitical situations change rapidly and tourism is sensitive to these changes.”

Indonesia’s step to digital nomads

One of the last destinations in the world to remain closed to unvaccinated travelers, Indonesia has reinstated the visa-free regime for nine Asian destinations and has also resumed the visa-on-arrival regime for most countries, provided that travelers are vaccinated.

Realizing that this may not be enough, the Indonesian government has introduced a flexible “digital nomad visa”, which allows remote workers to remain tax free in Bali for five years.

Indonesian Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno previously said that according to statistics, around 95% of digital nomads surveyed said Indonesia was their “priority” destination for remote work and were willing to travel to the country. .

The digital nomad visa is expected to further expand Indonesia’s attractiveness as a travel and business destination, attracting more foreign freelancers and remote workers to the archipelagic nation, said Joshua Sughandi, CEO of Netral Port Indonesia.

“This would bring a new segment of long-stay visitors that will increase local tourism and eventually also attract more tourists with ever better quality tourism services provided by such nomadic visa holders,” he said, adding that Indonesia should witness a significant increase and broader recovery by the first part of 2023.

Singapore means business

Singapore realizes that lifting all entry restrictions may not be enough, so the destination is making sure to competently promote itself as a meeting, incentive, conference and event destination.

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With its recent lifting of differentiated safe management measures for vaccination, the city-state hopes it will benefit the organizers of upcoming international meetings in Singapore. “We expect it will reduce costs and make events more commercially profitable,” said Keith Tan, chief executive officer, Singapore Tourism Board.

Firmly on the road to recovery, the city-state has a busy calendar of events to brag about.

Visitor arrivals in September 2022 exceeded September 2019 figures by more than 50%, Tan noted, attributing this to pent-up high demand for travel, following the reopening of the border and easing of restrictions.

However, the city-state isn’t ready to rest on its laurels. “We’re not standing still,” Tan said. “Our strategy to create, attract and grow high quality meetings, incentives, conferences and events outside Singapore is integral to our recovery. We want Singapore to be the premier event venue and to increase our position as a global Asian hub for business tourism. “

Having enjoyed the status of the world’s largest tourist region over the past decade, the Asia Pacific region may soon lose its title in Europe, according to a CAPA report. Destinations in the region understand that the way back would be tough.


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