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11:00am 12/06/2022
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[Isshōkenmei] Revenge travel: how I hope it’s true! (45)
By:Lee San

2022 is almost coming to the midpoint, just as the wholesale prices of vegetables, rice, cooking oil, salt, sugar and flour have quietly shot up by 10% and more, even 100% or 200%!

Looking around us, the consumer market which has remained depressed for over two years is largely unperturbed by the negative impact of soaring prices, at least for the time being. People still keep buying, and business owners are still laughing their way to the bank!

Weekends and in particular long weekends will still witness the craze of revenge shopping, dining and holidaying in cities and towns across the nation. This makes me wonder whether the much feared inflation could have just been overstated!?

Well, even if the price of RON97 has surged to RM4.70 per litre (as announced on Jun 2), at least we still have the RM2.05/L RON95 to use, right?

So, the car parks at eco resorts are still packed with vehicles, and a luxurious family tent could easily fetch a price tag of between RM500 and RM2,000 a night, excluding F&B. The thing is, you must be damned lucky if you manage to get one for hire!

As a matter of fact, the consumerism heat still keeps rising, such that we have seen new Japanese restaurants mushrooming all of a sudden. An omakase meal could cost upward of RM500 per pax, and yet is not always available!

Perhaps people simply don’t bother to plan for tomorrow and just seize the moment and enjoy themselves. Nothing is more important than having fun right now. As for tomorrow, we’ll know how to tackle it when it comes.

Anyway, there isn’t much we can worry about. Hasn’t our government enacted the new minimum wage scheme and even allowed EPF withdrawals to “encourage” spending?

How I hope such revenge consumerism will descend on our travel industry!

Hopefully the Lee & Lam combo will be back very soon!

So far much of the world has already opened up to international tourists, save for China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and a couple of other countries. Their doors are now widely open, and by right many would have rushed out of the country for their long missed foreign vacations!

Well, there are indeed some around us that have travelled overseas, but they mostly travel independently to countries like the UK and Australia to visit their children studying there, plus some that go on self-driving tours in Spain and Europe.

As for group tours, other than a handful of them going to Vietnam, Turkey and Switzerland, many operators are still sitting on the fence evaluating the situation before making their moves. Perhaps they think they should focus on domestic staycation for the time being, and venture out of the country only at the end of the year, when the outbound travel season peaks.

Moreover, some of the most popular destinations like Japan, Taiwan and China are still out of bounds to foreign tourists. So, let’s just wait a while longer, ya!

But the thing is, there isn’t much resource that these travel agencies which have reopened only from April 1 can afford to squander waiting infinitely! From what I have found out, most agencies can hardly sustain the fixed expenses of hiring new workers in the absence of revenue from outbound tours. Many have hoped to have at least one group each week to keep them afloat!

Unfortunately, even as the Japanese yen is trading at record low levels against the ringgit, the country is only partially open at this moment, and Malaysia is not in their list! Looks like we may have to miss this golden timing for sending our tour groups to Japan!

Additionally, airline companies which have prepared to stage a robust comeback after the pandemic are now forced to cut back their flight frequencies in view of the staggering fuel prices as a consequence of the Russia-Ukraine war, as well as safety considerations. Because of that, flight tickets are at least 30 to 200% higher on the back of overwhelming demand, and this directly pushes tour prices sky high.

I guess we may have to wait until the third or fourth quarter of this year before airfares can eventually stabilise, depending on whether airline companies are going to increase their flight frequencies to meet the strong demand.

I was sitting at my desk listening to the HR manager’s brief report. She said: We have 18 new Applenians joining us, and we now have a total of 98 employees! Startled by the numbers, I told her: Go get all the sales and marketing supervisors here now. Quick!

More in the Isshōkenmei series

(Lee San is Founder and Group Executive Chairman of Apple Vacations. He has travelled to 132 countries, six continents, and enjoys sharing his travel stories and insights. He has also authored five books.)

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Lee San
Apple Vacations
Isshōkenmei

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