In this issue: ① Quote of the month ② Over Tourism ③ Kuala Lumpur Spectacular Rising ④ Malaysia Merry go Round Monarchy ⑤ So Many Good Reasons to Work with LAT ⑥ KL, Fabio’s memories of the nineties ⑦ Expanding Airports ⑧ AirAsia & Garuda ⑨ New Tourism Tax in Bali
"The most dangerous worldview is the view of those who have never looked at the world".
Alexander von Humboldt
This year, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is expecting a return to pre-pandemic levels in visitor numbers. In the first quarter of 2023, international tourist arrivals reached 80% of their pre-COVID levels, totalling an estimated 235 million travellers, which is more than double the figure from the same period in 2022.
However, the travel industry is grappling with the challenges of accommodating this surge in vacationers, leading to a phenomenon known as over tourism. The UNWTO highlights that this robust rebound in travel, driven by an influx of cash, is resulting in adverse consequences due to an excessive number of visitors.
This rapid recovery in tourist numbers is likely a result of the prolonged pandemic-related restrictions.
Over tourism occurs when a destination struggles to cope with the overwhelming number of visitors it receives. It's crucial to distinguish between mass tourism and over tourism. Over tourism typically affects destinations that were not originally designed for tourism, such as Venice, Halong Bay, or specific areas of Bali, as opposed to places like Dubai or Singapore, which were purposefully developed and constructed for tourism and are better equipped to handle high visitor volumes.
It's worth noting that there is no official threshold to determine when a destination has reached its capacity, although it accurately identifies a problem that existed long before the term over tourism was coined.
The adverse effects of overcrowding are primarily felt by local residents, who contend with congested pavements, roads, and cycle lanes, deal with late-night disturbances, or suffer from litter-strewn beaches and polluted water.
To address over tourism, some destinations are implementing measures such as increasing tourist taxes, reconfiguring traffic, and limiting the number of cruise ships. However, it remains a complex challenge, as different government departments may have conflicting interests.
Many locals are overwhelmed by the influx of tourists, and some European cities are taking steps to restrict large cruise ships due to their significant environmental impact. However, the economic dependence on tourism makes it challenging for many destinations to limit visitor numbers.
The environmental impact of mega-cruise ships is also a pressing concern, and questions are raised about why they are allowed to grow in size, given their negative ecological footprint. This growth in tourism is sometimes seen as a form of neocolonialism, particularly in developing countries that heavily rely on Western tourists and have limited control over their resources.
To address the long-term challenges related to over tourism, experts suggest establishing destination stewardship councils. These councils should consist of government, private sector, and civil society representatives, focusing on the sustainable management of tourist destinations.
All stakeholders should come together to address the issue and provide a framework for assessing the impact of tourism, considering factors such as plastic pollution, water availability, and the well-being of local communities. Balancing income generation with environmental and social indicators remains a complex challenge in the industry.
Ultimately, it's crucial for both operators and consumers to be more aware and responsible, avoiding empty slogans and trends while behaving with consideration for others and the environment.
Kuala Lumpur Spectacular Rising
Rising above Kuala Lumpur's glittering skyline, the iconic Petronas Towers stand as symbols of the economic prosperity that swept across Southeast Asia in the early 1990s. They signify the city's consolidation of financial power, mirrored by well-maintained parks, efficient transportation systems, and modern infrastructure, setting Kuala Lumpur apart from many other cities in the region. Global brands proudly display their presence in opulent shopping malls, while restaurants offer a diverse array of cuisine, reflecting the city's rich history and multicultural population, with influences from Malay, Chinese, and Indian traditions. In this vibrant backdrop, the World Urban Forum has been diligently working to implement the ambitious New Urban Agenda, adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, in 2016. Urbanists from around the world have gathered in the city, converging on the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, situated at the base of the Petronas Towers, nestled in a lovely park adorned with joggers, manicured trees, and a central pool illuminated by colourful fountains. Families, couples, and city residents stroll or gather in groups, capturing selfies as the captivating light display unfolds behind them. In a 1980 article discussing the urban structure of Southeast Asian cities, historian Anthony Reid noted that this region was "destined by geography to be an international marketplace." Today, nearly four decades later, Kuala Lumpur has indeed evolved into an international trade hub, propelling the economic growth of the entire country. Malaysia's western seaboard has transformed into a densely populated corridor of cities, stretching from Penang to the tip of the Malay Peninsula. By 2026, a high-speed railway will interconnect these cities, linking them to the rapidly developing state of Johor and further urbanising the country's coastline. However, the same geography that provided economic advantages to many cities in Southeast Asia is now a potential existential threat. With a growing coastal urban population facing increasing climate change risks, these cities must grapple with the dual challenges of growth and sustainability. The region's urban expansion, at times, has displaced populations due to unchecked, poorly planned development prioritising profits over people and the environment. While modernized infrastructure has improved the lives of billions, it has also led to the displacement of others and rising inequality. The New Urban Agenda applies the UN's Sustainable Development Goals to urban centres, recognising that cities, which are home to a rapidly growing share of the world's population, hold promise and peril. For many, they have historically represented opportunity, but have also been places of danger, marked by insecurity and inequity. A significant portion of the global urban population lives in slums, and many engage in informal sector work, often with varying levels of dignity and human rights. The promise of cities remains, serving as gateways to the globalised world and paths to greater prosperity.
The New Urban Agenda proposes that the kind of cities we build in the future hinges on how we structure and manage their growth. It advocates for a "paradigm shift in the science of cities," asserting that "if well-planned and well-managed, urbanisation can be a powerful tool for sustainable development for both developing and developed countries." In the coming week, leaders, urban planners, and policymakers will convene to discuss how to apply the principles of the New Urban Agenda to improve the lives of urban dwellers worldwide. In the bustling commercial heart of Kuala Lumpur, the challenges of urbanisation may seem distant, but for many in Southeast Asia and beyond, the need for this paradigm shift is increasingly pressing. The World Urban Forum 9 aims to bring that shift closer to realisation.
Malaysia Marry go Round Monarchy
On October 23, Malaysia's nine sultans convened to select a new king from their ranks. This unique process for choosing the country's head of state has been in place since 1957. In nine of Malaysia's 13 federal states, a sultan serves as the ceremonial head of government, with each taking turns for five-year terms.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar from the southern state of Johor was chosen as the new king. While the king's role is largely symbolic, political instability has kept Malaysia's monarchs actively involved in recent years. The incumbent king, Sultan Abdullah, has appointed three prime ministers since 2019, including Anwar Ibrahim, the current prime minister, who received a pardon for charges of sodomy and corruption from the previous king.
Among older and rural Malays, the royal families are held in high esteem. Some may have been disappointed by the actions of the previous king, Sultan Muhammad V, who became the first monarch to abdicate in 2019 after marrying a Russian beauty queen. Many suspected that his romantic choices had garnered too much attention in the conservative country.
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
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
KL, Fabio’s memories of the nineties
Kuala Lumpur was gradually revealing its charm too. I had no hurry to rush his acquaintance with the city. The leisurely process filled me with a vague, indescribable euphoria. In the air, on the streets, and among the familiar British colonial-style buildings found in many cities worldwide, I sensed answers to unasked questions shrouded in velvety mystery. Kuala Lumpur blended innocence with the complexities of a society shaped by mistreatment and ignorance. The city was vertically divided by racial lines, horizontally by significant class disparities, and diagonally by varying levels of consciousness and public consideration.
Kuala Lumpur was a master of mystique. Living there was an art, one that, once mastered, allowed for audacious expressions of moral rebellion. The city often disregarded conventional legality in favor of a deep desire for liberalism and nihilism. The principle of non-interference, reigning supreme, meant navigating cautiously through labyrinthine paths of unexpected turns. This was a place where low visibility made anything possible, where appearances were deceptive, and surfaces were enchanting.
Beneath the apparent simplicity, there was a deliberate circular flexibility that demanded caution and deep comprehension. The capacity for accommodation, often mislabeled as hypocrisy, was essential for survival and mental well-being. Rather than opposing it strenuously, people embraced it as an intrinsic and inescapable human trait, reaching sublime levels of mental liberation and unscrupulousness.
In the morning, I headed to our agency's office located in the bustling Chow Kit area of Kuala Lumpur. This district was a hub of nightlife, housing various activities, including mercenary sex work and drug dealing. In the evenings, back alleys were occupied by drug addicts injecting heroin and morphine, purchased from local dealers. The main street hosted a cinema hall and one of the city's largest food markets. The buildings were Chinese shop houses, with commercial activities on the ground floor and residences above. Sidewalks beneath the arches of these houses saw a blend of life, from moments of love to gestures of survival.
I spent hours at a kopi tiam table, observing the bustling life that unfolded as a repetitive reel, alternating between compassion and indifference, in sync with resignation. Chow Kit, unrefined and sometimes bleak, offered acceptance without reservations, creating a warm sense of human solidarity. From housewives shopping for fabrics to old professionals seeking tenderness, to the helpless numbing their pain with injections, to young, inexperienced backpackers searching for affordable guesthouses, to idle men, gangsters, and pimps watching the constant flow of humanity.
Amidst the streets of Chow Kit or dining on a sidewalk, I felt a melancholic desolation seeping into my being. But at the same time, I sensed a rare camaraderie among those dedicated to survival.
Bali, a new tourism tax?
In recent years, Bali has emerged as a highly sought-after destination. Whether you're embarking on a personal journey akin to the "Eat, Pray, Love" experience or simply seeking a stunning vacation spot, the Island of Gods holds an irresistible allure. However, this popularity comes at a price.
As millions of travellers explore the island and take advantage of its affordability, the government is eager to preserve the island's environment and culture. expressing a desire to transform Bali from a low-end holiday destination into a high-quality tourism hub.
To that end, it has been announced that starting from February 14, 2024, every person entering the island will be required to pay a $10 (£7.70, €8.90, IDR 150,000) fee. This fee applies to both adults and children, with the exception of Indonesian tourists. It is a one-time transaction that can be paid electronically upon arrival. This initiative is aimed at safeguarding Bali's natural and cultural treasures while managing the impacts of tourism on the island.
Countries in Southeast Asia are actively expanding their major airports to accommodate the increasing demand for domestic travel and to attract foreign investment and tourists as part of their economic growth strategies. However, there are concerns about potential over-investment in some of these expansion plans.
Researches conducted into airport expansion plans near the capital cities of seven Southeast Asian countries (Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Cambodia) indicates that the total annual passenger handling capacity is set to reach at least 653 million people by 2030. This capacity is nearly double the 336 million people it stood at as of January 2023.
Malaysia, for instance, aims to increase its airport capacity to handle 150 million passengers, which is double its current capacity. Singapore has set a target of accommodating 140 million passengers, representing a 75% increase from the current figures. However, the completion dates for these expansion plans have yet to be determined.
AirAsia & Garuda
Capital A, the parent company of Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia, has joined forces with Indonesia's flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, to enhance collaboration between the two airlines on passenger flights and logistics. This partnership includes AirAsia and Citilink, a low-cost carrier affiliated with Garuda.
Our whole product for free and independent travellers, groups and MICE are based on a Climate Contribution programme. This means that part of the greenhouse gas emissions that will be generated are offset by projects in collaboration with Climate Partner, one of the leading climate protection solution providers for companies.
The arising emissions are being compensated by supporting a third-party certified geothermal energy project in Darajat, Java (Indonesia). The project helps to meet the growing demand for electricity in Indonesia. By increasing the share of renewable energy, the dependence on fossil fuel-based electricity decreases, and about 705,390 tonnes of CO2 emissions are saved per year.
For over thirty years, Lotus Asia Tours Group has provided services and assistance to travellers the world over, specialising in the design and implementation of corporate events, activities, incentive tours and motivational travel, targeted at FIT, GIT and MICE markets, in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indochina. The group also operates four boutique island hotels in Indonesia, in Lombok, Bali, Sulawesi and Papua. To learn more about our brand please head to our website, or contact us directly; we look forward to hearing how we could help make your next trip, tour or event memorable and successful. Corporate Office D-5-4 Megan Avenue 1, 189 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia T: +60 (0)3 21617075 · F: +60 (0)3 21617084 · E: email@example.com
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