Southeast Asian Business News Roundup
While the sharp decline of the Russian ruble has had obvious effects on the tourism market in Thailand, its decline in relation to other Southeast Asian currencies has also been marked.
In relation to the Thai baht, the ruble declined the most between its highs in January 2014 and the end of March this year, hitting its nadir in January 2015 when it had declined by more than 50 percent. It has since recovered ground but as at the beginning of April was still down 42.3 percent.
By comparison, the ruble was down 30.1 percent to the Indonesian rupiah, 37.3 percent to the Singapore dollar, 40 percent to the Vietnamese dong and 41.7 percent to the Philippine peso.
These declines have led to serious downturns in Russian visitors to these countries, as well as Cambodia.
According to the English-language Moscow Times, ‘a Russian tourist now needs to fork out as much as 140,000 rubles…for a trip to Vietnam, including plane tickets and accommodation, up from 60,000 rubles last year…For those who do make it to Vietnam, they are buying instant noodles instead of eating out, local media reported.”
“Russians account for billions of dollars in tourism revenue in Southeast Asia and rank second after Chinese travelers in number…Street vendors in Vietnamese beach towns have picked up Russian words. In 2013, when Russian tourist arrivals in Vietnam more than doubled, national carrier Vietnam Airlines launched direct flights linking Moscow with…Cam Ranh near the popular coastal town of Nha Trang.”
Russian visitor numbers dropped by 27 percent from January to March from 2014 figures, the first quarterly fall since 2012. Cambodia’s Tourism Ministry claimed ussian numbers were down 51 percent in the first two months of this year while Russian visitors to the Philippines dropped 12 percent.
The long-haul division of Air Asia is planning to start four, weekly flights between Kuala Lumpur and Honolulu in the US State of Hawaii, commencing 1 November. The drop in aviation fuel prices is said to be one of the drivers for this new service.
The International Maritime Bureau recently reported that the Southeast Asian region remains a seafaring pirate haven, alongside West Africa.
The Bureau noted incidents of piracy had taken place from Bangladesh to the Malacca Straits to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Singapore Straits, Vietnam and the South China Sea.
One incident, which took place on 20 March this year, highlighted the problem. Four speedboats approached a bulk carrier about 45 kilometres off Pearl Bank in Philippine waters.
The ship’s master sent out an alarm and contacted the Malaysian Navy. He then increased speed and took evasive action to prevent being boarded.