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Asia Minute: Finding a Different Kind of Tourism Market

AP Photo/Hau Dinh
In this Thursday, May 7, 2020, photo, an airline staff holds a thermometer to check boarding passengers at Hanoi airport in Hanoi, Vietnam. After three weeks with no local cases reported, Vietnam has reopened schools, businesses, factories and tourist att

Government officials in Hawaii and many other travel destinations are trying to figure out how to safely encourage tourism. In southeast Asia, the short-term answer is closer to home.

Tourism has been a growth industry across Southeast Asia for decades. The World Travel and Tourism Council says international travel numbers have been rising faster in the area than in the rest of the world in recent years.

But right now, policy makers around the region are looking at a slightly different target: domestic tourism.

Bloomberg reports that Vietnam has launched a campaign called “Vietnamese travel in Vietnam” with discounts to encourage tourism within the country, which has reported fewer than 350 cases of COVID-19 and no fatalities. The country is not yet open to international travel, but government officials are looking at their own citizens as a starting point.

It’s a similar story in Thailand, where the Bangkok Post reports measures such as vouchers to stimulate domestic travel may be approved as early as this week.

Another proposal under discussion this week: a plan that would help some disappointed Thai residents with international travel plans to shift their itineraries to domestic locations. The basic idea: anyone who could show cancelled air tickets and hotel reservations would be eligible for discounts on luxury package deals at Thai resorts.

One other idea on the table: The Tourism Authority of Thailand has proposed offering free vacations to more than a million of the country’s healthcare workers.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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