by Bill Barnett of c9hotelworks.com
“One thing I can assure them is that business will never be the same. Never.”
This is a story that has all the epic elements of military power, big oil, sleaze, real estate, greed and ultimately transformation. Southeast Asia’s sex tourism journey on a broad scale goes back to the 1960’s and the Vietnam War.
While Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila and Bangkok were urbanized versions, it was beach destinations like Pattaya and Penang which attracted military personnel on R&R with the triple ‘S’ theme of sun, sand and sex. In the mid-1970’s with the end of the Vietnam war, change was in the wind.
Enter the dragon – Asia’s economic tigers unleashed.
The 1980’s and 1990’s was the turning point for the region, with the overseas Chinese bamboo network becoming a key economic shape of things to come, coupled with the emergence of reclusive Mainland China.
The writing was on the wall, as slowly red-light districts came under attack both by evolving democracies and displaced by development. One of the best examples of this is Manila’s Ermita area, who’s star quickly faded when nationalistic politics came into a play.
Bombs and oil give the industry a second breath
Still, there was a second breath for the sex destinations in this era which was fueled by the toxic duo of war and oil. First, the Gulf War momentarily rekindled the R&R market, which was followed by Afghanistan. Asia’s strategic location to the chaos monkeys created a second act in this story.
Another key player was the oil sector, which both expanded in the Middle East and diversified to tap into Asia’s developing energy markets. Both the military and oil industries are male dominated, have a similar approach to R&R. The resulting testosterone-fueled attraction to Asia’s sex districts brought about an economic boom to bars, restaurants, small hotels and the related local economic micro-drivers.
Bricks and mortar crumble
One key element of the sex industry has been the evolution of the internet, and how the online social network connected buyers, sellers and those just looking to hook up. Who needs a bar when there was Craigslist? After the net changed the rules, next came smartphone messaging apps which allowed gentrification of the institutional sex industry.
At the same time, Southeast Asia’s red-light industries were impacted by surging land valuations and an urban push as the regions traditional shophouse culture moved into the next generation of high-rise building. At the end of the day, a ravenous real estate appetite pushed out the sex venues, slowly but surely.
Changing places, the East becomes the new West
Today, if you travel across the region to once prolific sex tourism destinations like Angeles City in the Philippines where sexpats once roamed, the new denizens are the likes of property conglomerates such as Ayala, Megaworld and Filinvest.
In Hong Kong’s once raunchy Wanchai district the tide has turned and now features hipster offerings such as the trendy Fleming or an upcoming St. Regis luxury hotel. Moving to Thailand, Pattaya was once one of Asia’s biggest sin cities. A sign of the times there was the entry of Thai retailer Central Group which is acting as a catalyst of change.
As Asia’s rising consumer class elevates, the mass model – be it tourism, low-cost airline carriers or entry level condos – have taken a strong hold of the market. In a region with easy door to door access to a third of the world’s population on their doorstep, the importance of legacy Western reliance is rapidly diminishing.
Where do we go from here?
In my own home of Phuket, I can see the collision course between old and new business models in the entertainment district of Patong. Small business owners who have failed to understand the changing business dynamic are suddenly left out in the cold, as what was once thought to be set in stone, is suddenly fading day by day. One thing I can assure them is that business will never be the same. Never.
While speculation remains rife in the blogosphere about the dwindling traffic in Southeast Asia’s once prolific sex tourism districts, the reality is if you want to find the masses, you’d best head to the mall or a nearby high-rise condo tower, as this is the new normal.
Truck spraying stepped up to prevent swine fever from entering Thailand
Chief of the Nong Khai animal quarantine office, Jongcharoen Maksuwan, says officials ramped up the disinfectant spaying following reports of a African swine fever outbreak in Laos.
Following the reports, the Livestock Development Department had totally banned imports of pigs and pork from Laos.
Jongcharoen says no pigs are normally imported at the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge border checkpoint, but live and slaughtered pigs are exported through the location. He says authorities require that trucks returning from delivering the pigs be sprayed at a cleaning facility at the border checkpoint.
Officials have increased the ratio of disinfectant from one litre per 600 litres of water to one litre per 200 litres of water for better efficiency in disease control.
ASEAN takeaways – 34th Summit in Bangkok
PHOTO: Thai PBS
Time to say goodbye. The leaders, minders, security details, media and staff all head back to the ten ASEAN nations following a non-controversial Bangkok Summit held over the weekend, as well as regional plenaries held last Thursday and Friday.
The expensive crockery is being put away, the hundreds of flags neatly folded, the chairs stacked and stored, and right hands having a rest after four days of hand-shaking and regional back-slapping.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha thanked all leaders for adopting the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific” plan which will reinforce ASEAN’s role in the region.
He also thanked Indonesian President Joko Widodo for playing an important role in driving the concept which, he said, will complement existing frameworks of cooperation at the regional and sub-regional levels and generate tangible and concrete deliverables for the benefit of the people of the region.
The Summit, he added, reinforced the importance of strengthening the regional economy and support for the conclusion of the RCEP negotiations this year – the world’s largest trade bloc – which will help ASEAN manage change and uncertainty in the region, especially regarding trade tensions between the US and China.
The Thai PM also noted the Summit’s adoption of the “Bangkok Declaration on Combatting Marine Debris in the ASEAN region”, adding that the declaration demonstrates the bloc’s commitment to reducing marine debris in a serious and sustainable manner.
Also, the Summit agreed to the launch of the Satellite Warehouse, under the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN and the ASEAN Centre of Military Medicine, both centres are located in Thailand.
The PM added that the Summit supported ASEAN’s bid to host the World Cup in 2034 and called on all football associations in the region and the people of ASEAN to support this dream and to make it a reality.
ASEAN leaders also attached importance to ASEAN awareness-raising and the promotion of ASEAN identity among the people of the region.
SOURCE: Thai PBS
The Korean Wave – a tsunami of cultural opportunity for ASEAN
BTS, Blackpink, ASEAN, K-Pop
by The Star Online – Asia News Network
TV drama, pop music, culture, food. The ‘Korean Wave’ is on its way.
The Korean Wave was the hot topic at the ASEAN-Korea Media Forum held in Seoul recently, with experts saying that it has, in fact, enhanced cultural exchanges between the republic and the entire region.
Korean bands Blackpink and BTS are currently the two most popular bands in Thailand.
Under the theme “Korean Wave in ASEAN: Successful Past and Sustainable Future”, speakers from media organisations, government and academia spoke about ways the phenomenon could be further spread through partnerships in the region.
The Korean Wave, or Hallyu, refers to the global popularity of South Korea’s cultural economy exporting pop culture, enter-tainment, music, TV dramas and movies.
Current K-Pop female pop-heavyweights, ‘BlackPink’
A long-time journalist and Korean drama fan, June H.L. Wong, says that regional media didn’t jump on board the first wave of dramas and earlier K-pop in the early 2000s.
“It wasn’t until the mid-2000s that the media started covering K-entertainment as awareness, access and opportunity improved,” said Wong, in her paper.
Wong says that by 2011, ASEAN media had regular coverage on K-pop culture and today, its stories are an accepted part of ASEAN news content. Noting that for the millennials, the new mainstream media was social, Wong added that K-idols and their fan clubs have become the supreme masters of these tools to keep in touch and up to date.
“More Korean pop songs now include English lyrics and more pop bands have English-speaking members, like BTS’ Kim Nam-joon (RM),” she added.
Matching ‘The Beatles’ for the most number of #1 Albums on the US charts in one year – ‘BTS’
The Korean Wave is expected to play an important role in stimulating greater partnership, coupled with President Moon Jae-in’s New Southern Policy to prosper together with ASEAN, said Kwon Chung-won, CEO and publisher of The Korea Herald.
Jang Won-ho, a professor at the University of Seoul said the empathy being cultivated among members of the BTS fan club, while idolising Hallyu content, has lead to the creation of a cultural community beyond national borders.
“It should be the future of Hallyu,” said Jang.
He also noted the influence of BTS, saying that since the band saw themselves as a role model, the band has been working with bodies like UNICEF to raise funds for the “Love Myself” campaign.
Watch BTS’ ‘RM’ speak at the UN about their ‘Love Yourself’ campaign…
SOURCE: the star.com.my
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