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It’s impossible to ignore travel in Southeast Asia. Not only is it central to multiple economies here—before the pandemic, it was common to see and hear people from across the globe dotted around the region—it’s also a crucial money-maker.

Travel and tourism is a massive contributor to GDP in the region. Estimates put it at nearly 20% in Thailand, approaching 10% in Indonesia, and a solid 4% in Singapore. Also, Southeast Asia is the top destination for outbound tourism from China. That’s created industries and businesses that cater solely to Chinese travelers, let alone other nationalities.

Even without the disruptive impact of Covid-19—which knocked the industry sideways and downwards—travel is an essential industry that runs through the veins of business in this part of the world. How then can any business publication in Southeast Asia not include travel and tourism in its scope of coverage?

There’s no real justifiable reason. For us at The Ken, that ends today as we welcome Xinyi Liang-Pholsena to our growing ranks.

Xinyi—who is from Singapore but based in Bangkok, Thailand—joins us as a reporter primarily covering travel and tourism with a business lens. She’s spent the last decade writing about the business of travel in Southeast Asia for publications that include TTG Asia, Travel Weekly Asia and Skift.

Beyond just finding the right person for us, I’m excited because I see the business of travel as an ideal opportunity for The Ken to expand the reach of our deep and analytical reporting.

The industry is chronically under-covered by top-tier media. Media outlets that do specialise often don’t dive deep enough or are weighed down with conflicts of interest that restrict them from reporting the full details. Those details are crucial as economies and borders begin to re-open following the pandemic.

In other words, there’s lots of important reporting that’s waiting to be told. That’s music to our ears as journalists.

You can contact Xinyi with congratulations, story tips or simply to lament your lack of travel these last 18 months via [email protected]. You can find her on Twitter, where she is @xinyi_pholsena.


Jon Russell

Jon Russell is Southeast Asia editor for The Ken based in Bangkok. Originally from the UK, Jon moved to Thailand in 2008. He’s passionate about telling thoughtful business stories, and tracking the impact of the internet in his adopted home of Southeast Asia.

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