In this issue: ① Moving on ② Responsibility ③ The Unlearned Tourism ④ Business Outlook ⑤ Stop warring now ⑥ The Batak of Sumatra ⑦ So Many Good Reasons to Work with LAT ⑧ Garbage Economy ⑨ Van Gogh in Singapore ⑩ Borobudur and Prambanan reopen on Mondays ⑪ Rail Line Nature Trek ⑫ Immersed at Langkawi
Southeast Asia is moving on past the pandemic, which is over even though the virus, among many others, is still circulating. Singapore has dropped a requirement for travellers who are not fully vaccinated to show COVID test results or purchase coronavirus travel insurance from February. Masks will also not be required to be worn on public transport, as authorities lowered the disease outbreak response level to "green" from "yellow," indicating COVID-19 is not threatening. However, masks will still be mandatory in health care settings, where there is interaction with patients and in indoor patient-facing areas.
Meantime governments and businesses in the region are rushing to rebuild the battered tourism industry in the post-pandemic era. International air traffic is picking up again, giving airlines a chance to attract more visitors from Asia and the rest of the World.
Following China's reopening, neighbouring countries are anticipating an increase in travellers from the Asian giant with, Indonesia Malaysia and Singapore steadily preparing for the return of Chinese tourists. The headwinds for these preparations are a substantial labor shortage and pressing issues of sustainability. The vast damages of the tourism impact of the past decades must be contained and new policies and responsibility by all stake holders are of the essence at this point in time.
In this issue, in the Tattler section, we are reporting on the young generations emerging awareness of our environment and the enormous problem created by plastic pollution, with a good example of sustainable and responsible business. We appeal once again to our valued clients to refrain from demanding we furnish their passengers with single use plastic products.
But responsibility is not only limited to preserving what we have but also to be knowledgeable and respectful of the cultures and places visited. In an era of Instagram tourism where narcissism and visibility prevail over learning and exchanging and poor judgment and bad taste over decency and refinement, we witness ever more regrettable incidents perpetrated by tourists.
In Bali for instance, where now watching a majestic sunrise from atop a mountain, is set to become soon a much more exclusive experience, as the Indonesian resort island debates restricting access to its peaks, summits and high places to ensure they are “kept sacred”. It follows a string of fatal accidents and other incidents in recent years involving foreigners filming themselves dancing naked and having sex on Mount Batur, one of the island’s holy mountains.
The business outlook for the year is very positive and we look forward to the receding of the current geopolitical tensions, which prove time and again that man is the worst danger to humankind, worse than any virus or natural disaster.
The Batak of Sumatra, Indonesia
The Batak comprises of several closely related ethnic groups of north-central Sumatra, Indonesia. The term Batak is one of convenience, likely coined during precolonial times by indigenous outsiders, the Malay, and later adopted by Europeans. The groups embraced by the term—the Toba, the Karo, the Simalungun, the Pak Pak, the Mandailing, and the Angkola—have to a limited degree adopted it as a self-designation. They speak distinct languages that belong to the Austronesian language family and that share a common writing system. At the turn of the 21st century the Batak numbered about 6.1 million.
The Batak are descendants of a powerful Proto-Malayan people who until 1825 lived in relative isolation in the highlands surrounding Lake Toba in Sumatra. By the 2nd or 3rd century CE, Indian ideas regarding government, writing, elements of religion, arts, and crafts had begun to influence the Batak. They did not, however, develop a unified state, and today they are found in six cultural divisions. Within these are exogamous patrilineal clans known as marga. They practice a form of bride wealth, in which a husband’s family gives gifts and services to the wife’s family; once a particular proportion of the agreed-upon gifts is reached, the bride becomes an official member of her husband’s group. Among the Toba Batak a traditional village consists of several clan houses, but in the Karo division all dwell in one or more longhouses.
Historically, ancestors, plants, animals, and inanimate objects were considered to possess souls or spirits that could be coerced or enticed by male priests. Those priests were aided by female mediums who, in trance, communicated with the dead. By the early 21st century few Batak continued to practice strictly local religion. Rather, most followed Protestant Christianity, although there were also many adherents of Islam. Many Batak, moreover, occupied prominent positions in business and in the Indonesian government.
Visit Batak land of North Sumatra with our tours and combinations with Peninsula Malaysia. Click here for more information.
So Many Good Reasons to Work with LAT
Established in 1991
Independently owned and operated
Purely B2B with travel industry partners
Online booking engine with immediate
confirmation of hotels, tours and transfers
Skilful Contents Provider and Technology user
Knowledgeable and efficient reservations personnel
Long and proud association with the MICE industry in all Lotus destinations
Fully committed to Sustainability and CSR; ‘Travelife’ partner
Carbon Neutrality for all packages and services on offer
Extensive selection of scheduled group departures and innovative product lines
Direct access to a vast pool of local professional contributors
Owns small boutique island hotels strategically located
LAT Indochina subsidiary operating in Thailand and Vietnam
Multilingual guides in all destinations
Operations offices throughout its destinations
Centralised bookings and payments for multi destination tours
Assistance in language
As a child, Syukriyatun Niamah was encouraged by her father to explore the beauty of Indonesia through camping and climbing. What she remembers was pollution: plastic waste strewn about in the open. While the most populous nation in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations possesses tourism gems like the idyllic resort island of Bali, discarded waste -- a byproduct of the country's rapid economic development -- has taken the shine off its otherwise attractive landscapes. Plastic packaging peppers some of Indonesia's rivers, at times clogging up waterways.
The scenes from her childhood motivated Niamah, now 28, to found Robries, a startup that aims to prevent plastic waste from reaching the ocean by transforming it into furniture and home accessories. “Indonesia is a beautiful country, but there's a lot of waste in the environment," she says. "When I was in college, I saw the plastic waste problem getting bigger”. The young Indonesian entrepreneur studied product design before she founded the startup in 2018 and applied her skills to experimenting with recycling processes to convert plastic waste into useful products. From tables and chairs to vases in vibrant colours, the results can be seen on the company's website.
Van Gogh in Singapore
After successful runs in Europe and the US, the Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience has finally made its way to South-east Asia with a debut in Singapore. Held at Resorts World Sentosa, this 360-degree digital immersive art experience harnesses a blend of artwork replicas, digital projections, Virtual Reality (VR), and atmospheric light and sound to take visitors deep into Vincent Van Gogh’s world.
Borobudur and Prambanan reopen on Mondays
Borobudur, Prambanan, Ratu Boko, Mendut , and Pawon will be open everyday including Monday.
Rail Line Nature Trek
A former railway line running through the heart of Singapore has turned into one of its biggest conservation success stories, marking a departure from the more manicured approach to nature that the city-state is known for. The 24-kilometer (15 miles) contiguous stretch of land was part of a rail track built by the British colonial government in Malaya and was returned to Singapore from Malaysia in 2011, more than four decades after the two countries parted ways.
Immersed in Langkawi
Langkawi will soon have a fresh attraction to draw travellers – the Dream Forest Langkawi, an integrated tourist destination comprising Dream Forest Immersive Park and Dream Forest Book Village. The first phase of the project, Dream Forest Immersive Park, is set to open in May at the foot of Gunung Raya mountain. It will feature a multi-sensory, immersive evening walk through a 1.2km trail in Langkawi’s lush rainforest, where local stories and legends of the island come alive through soundscape, illuminations and projection mapping on the trees and the ground. Some spaces are also interactive. During the day, visitors can take nature walks and at night, the forest transforms into a 6.39 hectare-wide natural theatrical space.