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Exclusive: Tourists are flocking back to Southeast Asia — but the robust recovery is showing signs of cracks

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Tourists are flocking back to Southeast Asia — but the robust recovery is showing signs of cracks

#Tourists #flocking #Southeast #Asia #robust #recovery #showing #signs #cracks

After more than two years of lockdowns and border controls, Southeast Asia is finally experiencing some semblance of the old days of travel.

Flights are steadily returning to 2019 levels in the region’s major economies, with Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia being the most popular destinations this year, according to the flight data analytics firm Cirium.

In Singapore, which had the most inbound flight bookings in the region this year, bookings rose from around 30% of 2019 levels in January to 48% by mid-June. The Philippines also saw a sharp uptick in bookings, from about 20% at the start of January, to almost 40% by mid-June, according to Cirium.

Tourism is a key moneymaker for Southeast Asia, a region which saw international visitors more than double from 63 million in 2009 to 139 million in 2019, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

The industry accounts for around 10% of gross domestic product in Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia and between 20% and 25% of GDP in Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines, according to a May 2022 report published by the Asian Development Bank.

Cirium’s chart on the absolute number of flight seats booked in 2022 in Southeast Asia and Nepal.

The pandemic “was probably more devastating in Southeast Asia than the rest of the world [because] governments kept the borders closed for almost two years,” said Gary Bowerman, director of the travel research firm Check-in Asia. “There were even restrictions on domestic travel.”

“If you compare that to North America or Europe, for example, in both years 2020 and 2021 … they had some tourism and travel flows,” he said.

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Changing travel habits

Most countries in Southeast Asia — including Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines — have stopped requiring fully vaccinated travelers to take Covid-19 tests before traveling.

After Singapore dropped its pre-travel testing requirement in April, business has been “picking up fast and furious,” said Stanley Foo, founder of the local tour operator Oriental Travel & Tours. He said travelers are booking longer trips and spending more than before too.

Before the pandemic, the company received around 20 tour bookings a week, mostly for tours lasting three to four days. Now, its handling 25 bookings a week, some for trips up to 10 days long. Average expenditures on customized tours rose from around $2,000 per person before the pandemic to $4,000 to $6,000 today, said Foo.

“It’s because of the revenge traveling,” Foo said. “They have saved up enough for the past two years.”

Since tourists are spending more time in Singapore, Foo and his team of tour guides are taking clients to places outside the usual tourist itinerary — to the suburbs to watch residents do tai chi and to order coffee at hawker centers “the Singaporean way,” he said.

Joanna Lu of Ascend by Cirium, the company’s consultancy arm, said people are spending more time planning their journeys too. They are “making sure they’re covered for unexpected changes,” she said.

Not your usual tourists

With China largely closed, tourism operators in Southeast Asia will target Japanese, South Korean, and in particular, Indian, tourists to make up for the shortfall of Chinese visitors, said Check-in Asia’s Gary Bowerman.

Sajjad Hussain | Afp | Getty Images

In 2019, visitors from China made up more than 30% of tourists to some Southeast Asian nations, according to the Asian Development Bank, a fact which makes China’s prolonged border closure even more painful for the region.

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“The traffic decline in China has deepened in April as strict travel restrictions limit air travel in, to and from the country,” said Lu, adding she doesn’t expect the situation to change soon.

John Grant, chief analyst at the travel data company OAG, said Asia’s travel recovery lags behind other continents’ because of its reliance on international visitors, particularly from China, as well as the varying reopening strategies in the region.

Southeast Asia has about 66% of flight capacity — measured by scheduled airline seats — compared with pre-pandemic levels, according to OAG. Europe and North America are back to around 88% and 90% of pre-pandemic capacity respectively, OAG’s data showed.

Cloudy skies ahead

Southeast Asia’s travel recovery faces other global headwinds too: rising costs and interest rates, inflation and a potential recession.

Jet fuel prices in early June were up 128% from a year ago, according to the International Air Transport Association. Airlines are increasing fares as a result, but “at least to date it does not appear to have impacted demand since people have two years of pent-up demand,” said Grant.

But that could quickly change if fuel surcharges coincide with inflation eating into travelers’ discretionary spending, he said.

Rising interest rates will likely devalue emerging economies’ currencies against the U.S. dollar, making imports more expensive and reducing how much travelers can spend on non-essentials like holidays, said Bowerman.

Where are the workers?

Even if Southeast Asia continues to attract streams of tourists, air carriers may have to turn them away if they cannot find enough workers to service their flights.

Many workers in the air travel industry left or were laid off during the first two years of the pandemic. The aviation industry had 50% fewer jobs at the end of 2021 compared with pre-Covid times — from 87.7 million to around 43.8 million — according to the global air transport association Aviation Benefits Beyond Borders.

Flight cancelations, delays and crowded airports are frustrating the summer travel season in Europe and North America. Low wages have made working at airports and airlines unattractive, and workers in Europe are striking against low pay and poor working conditions.

The travel chaos in other parts of the world that has yet to hit Southeast Asia is a situation officials in the region hope to avert.

Singapore’s Changi Airport Group wants to fill 250 vacancies by year-end, according to the agency. Singapore Airlines has selected more than 800 cabin crew from several thousand applications, which is “three to four times more” than it received in pre-Covid days, the airline said in an email to CNBC.

The Malaysian Aviation Commission told CNBC that local airlines are “actively seeking to recruit,” but “demand for air travel remains uncertain as Malaysia progresses into the endemic phase of Covid-19.”

Singapore Airlines said passenger capacity averaged around 61% of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter and expects a rise to 67% in the second quarter of 2022, the airline said in a statement in May 2022.

Roslan Rahman | Afp | Getty Images

But there were signs of cracks. In April, Changi Airport Group had to retime some flights over a four-day long weekend because of a staffing shortage, according to local media reports.

Malaysian media reported that about 1 in 10 domestic flights that flew during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebratory period in late April and early May were delayed, partly because of a lack of workers.

Mayur Patel, OAG’s regional sales director for Japan and Asia-Pacific, said airlines have been denied additional slots to land or take off because airports did not have enough manpower to accommodate the extra flights.

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“I think the plan is to get back to pre-Covid levels but with [the] China uncertainty, this will be … tricky,” said Patel.

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Exclusive: Scaling Up Your Freelancing Career to a Small Business – TalkOfNews.com

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Scaling Up Your Freelancing Career to a Small Business

#Scaling #Freelancing #Career #Small #Business

The gig economy has become a powerhouse of employment for nearly 59 million Americans, according to a 2021 Freelance Forward report published by the work platform Upwork. In the same breath, it’s now become more apparent than ever that working from home and freelancing is more than a side-hustle for some workers as they’re able to rank in multiple figures. Here is how to start scaling up your freelancing career to a small business career.



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Technology and the Internet Will Help Your Scale to a Small Business

With the rapid digitization of the workplace, as companies are becoming more open to remote job roles, freelancers have simultaneously found themselves in a comfortable position amidst the transition.

Nowadays, technology and the internet have enabled employees and companies to communicate with one another effectively, as well as with their clients and potential customers. This means freelancers can now grow their freelance businesses faster and more efficiently.

Basic Communication is an Organizational Tool Your Will Need to Scale Your Freelancing

Basic communication and organizational tools are now more digital and easier to use. In addition, the internet and cloud-based software allow businesses and freelancers to improve their workflow more seamlessly without the need for traditional tools. A Freelancing America report indicated that roughly 77% of freelancers say that technology and software capabilities have made it easier to find freelance work.

With freelancers now having easier access to the right tools, how can they scale up their business, moving from part-time to full-time development, enabling them to run and operate as a small business?

While it’s a challenging road that leads up to freelancers having the opportunity to establish themself as a small business – here’s a look at some key metrics that freelancers can use to improve their business prospects.

Freelancing vs. Small Business vs. Contractors vs. Consultants

Before we can jump right in, there are some defining differences between freelancers and self-employed individuals, i.e., small business owners, contractors, and consultants.

Here’s a look at each of their characteristics.

Freelancer: In the gig economy, freelancers tend to work on a part-time or assignment basis. This means that these individuals can work for more than one person or company at a time, and work is related to a pre-approved assignments framework.

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Small Business Owner: It’s not a direct definition, as it can vary across the board, but a small business owner can be seen as someone who has developed a service or product for the greater good of the consumer marketplace, either alongside other employees or stakeholders.

Contractors: These individuals work for one specific person or company at a time, with an approved work agreement. Usually, a contractor will be employed by a company or firm to complete a set of pre-assigned job specifications.

Consultants: Consultants are usually seen as the brain behind specific jobs and projects. A consultant usually consults on a project, giving insight and industry knowledge. Consultants aren’t traditionally involved during the final length of the project.

What we can take from this is that freelancers are more flexible, and can work on a set of projects and jobs simultaneously. This means they’re not, in most cases, contractually obliged to one specific employer.

Freelancing is a lot more flexible, and creatives in this industry tend to work on various projects throughout their time. Still, it can sometimes be challenging to juggle multiple deadlines or project formats. And, of course, freelancers aren’t treated as full-time employees, meaning they don’t receive work-related benefits from their temporary employer.

Scaling up your freelancing career to a small business

For professional freelancers, there might have been a time when they noticed their business becoming increasingly more demanding. Other times, they stumble upon a new and fresher concept that will help them further develop their current niche.

Whatever it may be, it’s possible for a freelancer to move their practice into the small business ecosystem, and here’s how.

Perfect Your Skills To Find Your Niche

An excellent place to start for any freelancer, is to look at their skills and expertise and start narrowing down one or two specific skills they can improve.

What this means is although you might be the Jack of all trades when it comes to your scope of practice, often larger firms and more established companies tend to look for individuals who are an expert in their field. Continuing education is what helps to overcome hardships and unpredictable challenges, and for freelancers, this could mean more business and more money in their pockets.

Find what you are good at, whether photography, design, or writing, and focus on that niche. The more time and effort you put behind it, the quicker you can hone those abilities.

Create an online presence

In the gig economy, it’s easy to look up any job portal, browse through the hundreds of different jobs and apply to those that seem applicable. The digital world has made it easier, and more convenient to find jobs that suit your range of skills.

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Step up your online presence — this means social media

While working on your online presence is convenient and sometimes effective, it can also seem less personal. As a freelancer, who’s now ready to step up their game, consider how an online presence, whether it’s a website, blog, or online portfolio, will help you become more professional and link with affiliated clients.

As you’re growing this niche, you should focus on channels where you are bound to find most of your potential clients and customers. The easier it is for clients to find your business online or your portfolio, the easier it can be for them to contact you.

Being online is one of the many ways you can establish yourself as an individual entity and a professional service provider. It helps you manage your projects and clients better and is a perfect starting point for someone looking to scale up their freelance career.

Grow Your Network

Networking helps to get your name out there. More so, it’s one of the easiest ways to connect with people in your field or industry.

Growing your network is not only for the sake of building a strong referral list but also a way to connect with people who can link you to potential jobs and clients.

A freelancer is just as good as the people they work and associate with, so it’s essential to keep an open mind when it comes to connecting with new people. The digital landscape is flooded with platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and Fiverr, where professionals can network with one another.

Offer A Product Or Service

Entrepreneurs start businesses to find solutions to current problems within their marketplace. When freelancing, consider how a service or product you’re offering can be offered as a solution to potential clients.

If you start to notice that there is a shortage of graphic designers or UX experts in your area, create services and packages that are tailored toward your direct consumer market.

It’s not as easy as it may sound, as it does take a bit of time to piece it all together. From market-related research to networking with competitors, finding a shortage of skills in your direct community, which you’re already equipped with, can eat up a lot of time and resources.

Raise Your Prices

Freelancers tend to work part-time or contractual, stipulating what they can expect to receive as compensation once work has been completed.

If you’re now looking to move into doing things more full-time, and perhaps in the near future, increase your intake of work to establish yourself as a small business, then it might be time to raise your prices.

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Raising your prices is not for selfish reasons, but rather for the known fact that those people looking for help on a specific subject matter will pay for high-quality skilled individuals. Therefore, if you have a skill that is in high demand, consider how you can monetize it, while not overcompensating.

Use A Contract For Everything

It may seem a bit tedious to set up a contract for your work, even if it’s something simple such as proofreading articles or editing photos. Nevertheless, you offer your expertise and skills to a paying client, and there should be clear ground rules on how it will work.

At first, your contract won’t need to be a formal, 10-page document that outlines the terms and conditions of use. Instead, focus on what the client can expect from you, and what is expected of them in return.

The contract helps create a legally bound agreement between you and the client, helping to give you more peace of mind during the completion of the project. Contracts can be seen as one of the many insights freelancers can take from enterprise businesses.

If in the event a customer ends up not being satisfied with your work, or progress, or even worse, they refuse to pay; you at least have the contractual agreement as a safety net.

Always ensure that whatever is being stipulated in the contract is viable for you and your clients.

Final Thoughts

Working as a freelancer gives creatives a space in which they can be more flexible with their work. In addition, it allows them to network with companies and business leaders, which can lead to potential job opportunities or more full-time agreements.

Whether you’re a novice freelancer or someone who has now reached a point where your side hustle is starting to take off – there’s always space for it to grow in the right direction.

Moving from full-time or professional freelancing into operating a small business is now an easy caveat, and it takes some time to smooth out all the edges.

There’s potential for your freelancing hustle to turn into a small business venture, but be aware that you will have to work for it. Remember to hone your niche, sell a skill, and network as much as possible, and you’re already on the right start.

Image Credit: Pexels; Thank you!

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Exclusive: Cramer's lightning round: Move on from DigitalBridge – TalkOfNews.com

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Cramer's lightning round: Applied Materials is a buy

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Nucor Corp: “Steel prices are coming down. … I’d rather buy energy right now than I would Nucor.”

NIO Inc: Cramer pressed a button that seemingly played the sound of a car collision. “And that’s what I have to say about NIO.”

Disclosure: Cramer’s Charitable Trust owns shares of Pioneer.

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Exclusive: 51 Elon Musk Quotes Ranked In Order of Pure Elon Muskiness – TalkOfNews.com

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51 Elon Musk Quotes Ranked In Order of Pure Elon Muskiness

#Elon #Musk #Quotes #Ranked #Order #Pure #Elon #Muskiness

Elon Musk is turning 51, and I had no idea what to get him.

So, I got you a present instead. Or else, maybe it turned into more of a present for myself, because I had fun putting it together: 51 memorable Musk quotes–from interviews, articles, and of course Twitter–ranked more or less in order of how quintessentially Elon Muskian they are. 

Here’s the list. Let us know in the comments what you think number 52 should be. 

  1. “I love the thought of a car drifting apparently endlessly through space and perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future.”
  2. “I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.”
  3. “The key test for an acronym is to ask whether it helps or hurts communication.”
  4. “One word: Doge.”
  5. “To make an embarrassing admission, I like video games. That’s what got me into software engineering when I was a kid. I wanted to make money so I could buy a better computer to play better video games. Nothing like saving the world.”
  6. “There are some important differences between me and Tony Stark, like I have five kids, so I spend more time going to Disneyland than parties.”
  7. “With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like, yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Didn’t work out.”
  8. “The path to the CEO’s office should not be through the CFO’s office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design.”
  9. “Optimism, pessimism, f**k that; we’re going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I’m hell-bent on making it work.”
  10. “Every 5000th buyer of our boringly boring hat will get a free hat signed by the delivery guy.”
  11. “You could power the entire United States with about 150 to 200 square kilometers of solar panels, the entire United States. Take a corner of Utah… there’s not much going on there, I’ve been there. There’s not even radio stations.”
  12. “I’m nauseatingly pro-American. I would have come here from any country. The U.S. is where great things are possible.”
  13. “Any product that needs a manual to work is broken.”
  14. “It’s OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket.”
  15. “When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.”
  16. “If you go back back a few hundred years, what we take for granted today would seem like magic – being able to talk to people over long distances, to transmit images, flying, accessing vast amounts of data like an oracle. These are all things that would have been considered magic a few hundred years ago.”
  17. “I’ve always wanted to be part of something that would radically change the world. . . . People forget the power of inspiration. All of humanity went to the moon with the Apollo missions. The issue was cost. There was no chance to build a base and create frequent flights. That’s the problem I would like to solve.”
  18. “I’m personally a moderate and a registered independent, so I’m not strongly Democratic or strongly Republican.”
  19. “We have a strict ‘no a-hole policy’ at SpaceX. And we fire people that are. I mean, we give them a little bit of warning. But if they continue to be an a-hole, then they’re fired.”
  20. “Entrepreneurship is like eating glass and walking on hot coals at the same time.”
  21. “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
  22. “And we need things in life that are exciting and inspiring. It can’t just be about solving some awful problem. There have to be reasons to get up in the morning.”
  23. “Ancient Greece had it all & then committed suicide. Nobody digs your grave better than yourself.”
  24. “To our knowledge, life exists on only one planet, Earth. If something bad happens, it’s gone. I think we should establish life on another planet-Mars in particular-but we ‘re not making very good progress. SpaceX is intended to make that happen.”
  25. “I’m actually making history tonight as the first person with Asperger’s to host SNL. Or at least the first to admit it. So I won’t make a lot of eye contact with the cast tonight. But don’t worry, I’m pretty good at running human and emulation mode.”
  26. “Should prob articulate philosophy underlying my actions. It’s pretty simple & mostly influenced by Douglas Adams & Isaac Asimov.”
  27. “There’s nothing – I’ve bought everything I want. I don’t like yachts or anything; you know, I’m not a yacht person, and I’ve got pretty much the nicest plane I’d want to have.”
  28. “Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”
  29. “When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world.”
  30. “I think life on Earth must be about more than just solving problems… It’s got to be something inspiring, even if it is vicarious.”
  31. “That’s my lesson for taking a vacation: vacation will kill you.”
  32. “I don’t spend my time pontificating about high-concept things; I spend my time solving engineering and manufacturing problems.”
  33. “Nobody wants to buy a $60,000 electric Civic. But people will pay $90,000 for an electric sports car.”
  34. “I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
  35. “You need to live in a dome initially but over time you could terraform Mars to look like Earth and eventually walk around outside without anything on. … So it’s a fixer-upper of a planet.”
  36. “Ultimately, the downfall of the Freemasons was giving away their stonecutting services for nothing.”
  37. “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”
  38. “If humanity doesn’t land on Mars in my lifetime, I would be very disappointed.”
  39. “I’d like to dial it back 5% or 10% and try to have a vacation that’s not just e-mail with a view.”
  40. “You know what, don’t bother showing the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”
  41. “I would only call someone an idiot if people were mistakenly under the impression that the person was smart.”
  42. “I’m actually making history tonight as the first person with Asperger’s to host SNL. Or at least the first to admit it. So I’ll make a lot of eye contact with the cast tonight. But already I’m pretty good at running human and emulation mode.”
  43. “Taking Twitter private at $54.20 should be up to shareholders, not the board.”
  44. “I just want to retire before I go senile because if I don’t retire before I go senile, then I’ll do more damage than good at that point.”
  45. “I voted for Mayra Flores – first time I ever voted Republican. Massive red wave in 2022.”
  46. “Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning patience. It’s a tough lesson.”
  47. “If you had to buy a new plane every time you flew somewhere, it would be incredibly expensive.”
  48. “Engineering is the closest thing to magic that exists in the world.”
  49. “An asteroid or a supervolcano could certainly destroy us, but we also face risks the dinosaurs never saw: An engineered virus, nuclear war, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us.”
  50. “I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.”
  51. “For my part, I will never give up, and I mean never.” 

If you’ve read this far, you probably find Musk as interesting as I do; hence my free ebook, Elon Musk Has Very Big Plans. For someone like Musk, who is involved in so many things, and who has created so many controversies, it’s fascinating that many readers will know exactly why I picked these quotes, and what I meant by the made-up word, “Muskian.”

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.


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