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‘Tis the season to take a moment, do some navel-gazing and reflect back on the year that was. I thought why not roll up all of the key things that happened just in case you missed reading one of my life-changing blog posts (hey, they changed my life!).
So in no particular order, here are the highlights of the Goway Asia year as we prepare to wrap up (get it?) 2019!
Unfortunately, politics and travel are seldom far apart. December 18, 2018 saw Huawei exec, Meng Wanzhou detained in Canada, which started a back and forth between North America and China. It ultimately slowed tourism to the land of the sleeping dragon for pretty much the entire year. Coupled with increased hoops clients needed to clear to obtain a Chinese tourist visa, including fingerprinting, and visiting the consulate in person, China just wasn’t the ‘it’ destination for 2019.
India, on the other hand, relaxed visa formalities, making it easier than ever before to obtain a visa online and at drastically reduced costs. Instead of US$80 per person for a visa, costs dropped as low as US$10 per person, depending on the season of travel.
Speaking of India, the luxury tax introduced in 2017 dropped in 2019 from an average of 28% down to 18%. The team at Goway had to hustle of course to reprice everything, but anything that makes India more affordable is a good thing in our book.
Singapore’s Changi airport has long been considered the world’s #1 airport… but why rest on your laurels just because you’re #1? Introducing the Jewel. What other airport in the world is considered a destination on its own? Yep, people actually travel all the way to Singapore just to see Changi with its new addition, the Jewel. Opened April 17, 2019, this nature-themed entertainment and shopping complex keeps things true to Singapore’s ‘city in a garden’ philosophy, while attracting over 300,000 people per day to Changi’s 3 terminals. Spread over 10 stories, the Jewel’s hundreds of attractions include the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. It might just be the world’s nicest place for a layover, and not a bad place to be stranded by a cancelled flight… if it comes to that!
There’s no sugarcoating it. Hong Kong took an unfortunate beating in 2019. To find the silver lining, however, now is probably one of the best times to visit the city, particularly if your clients are looking for iconic images without having to elbow their way through selfie-sticks. We completely understand why most of our conservative travellers decided to put travel to Asia’s world city off for another time. My prediction, however, is that Hong Kong will be back in full fighting form before the end of spring.
Japan hosted the Rugby World Cup in September and of course, it’s poised to welcome Olympic athletes and their entourages for 2020. All this means 2019 was a year of preparation for Japan. The country more than rose to the challenge, adding greater capacity than ever before, plus tons of new excursions including foodie tours and live like a local tours. That’s in addition to all the classic experiences we know and love.
Holy Hannah things got busy for Goway Asia in 2019! Ups and downs aside, the phones never stopped ringing. So much so that our team of Asia experts grew by 50%, and now includes home-based agents in Los Angeles, Texas, Montreal, Calgary, and the UK, on top of our crew in Vancouver and Toronto. And it’s still growing! If you think you might like to join our team and take advantage of our competitive compensation package with the option to work from home, check out our careers page on goway.com.
Winner, winner Peking duck dinner (sorry!). The Goway Asia team received top nods from both Recommend magazine as the Asia Tour operator for the year as well as the Baxter Media Agent’s Choice Awards. My mother always told me never to brag, but sometimes you just got to throw your hands in the air and celebrate the moment. Whoop, whoop!
And that was 2019 for Goway Asia! Stay tuned for a look into what 2020 has in store.
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