On 1 September 2021, Universal Studios’ first theme park in China had a soft opening. Located in Beijing, the park hosts several rides inspired by blockbuster Universal films franchises, such as Harry Potter and Jurassic World, and includes two hotels and a shopping street. The Universal Studios Grand Hotel is the world's first Universal-themed hotel and comprises 800 rooms and suites, including a few family-friendly themed accommodations. The NUO Resort Hotel is the country's first homegrown luxury hotel brand and features 400 rooms and suites. The park features water shows and animatronic characters, along with facial recognition technologies that allow visitors to open lockers, pay for meals, and join express queues without the need for a physical ticket. With the official opening date set for 20 September 2021, the park is expected to see a surge of visitors in October, due to the upcoming week-long National Holidays, paired with the pent-up tourism demand from the COVID-19 lockdowns that marred the summer holidays. The state media reported that searches for the theme park on the Ctrip booking site have soared by more than 800% since the opening date was announced. Universal Studios Beijing is Universal’s fifth park globally, with other parks in Singapore, Japan, and the United States.
The Transport Ministry of Vietnam has approved an upgrade for the Con Dao Airport located in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau. First built by the French in the 20th century and upgraded in 2003 for commercial use, the airport currently handles smaller aircraft with a capacity of 72 to 78 passengers and is unable to operate at night due to the absence of a runway lighting system. The new upgrade will increase the 1,830-metre-long runway's width from 30 to 45 metres to receive larger aircraft. A parallel taxiway and three new taxiways connected with the runway will also be built to improve the airport capacity. Other improvements will include a new passenger terminal, cargo terminal, an apron for eight aircraft, an air traffic control tower, a synchronous airport beacon system and a landing gear system. Once fully completed, it is expected to increase its current capacity of 400,000 to two million passengers a year in 2030. Currently, Vietnam Air Services Company, and Bamboo Airways are the only two carriers operating regular flights to the island.
The Cambodian government has approved the draft Mondulkiri Tourism Development Master Plan 2021-2035. This comes amidst a wider initiative to attract about three million domestic and international tourists annually to the regional biodiverse powerhouse in northeastern Cambodia. Mondulkiri is expected to receive 900,000 foreign tourists and two million domestic tourists by 2035, while also creating 80,000 jobs and generating USD500 million direct income and USD1 billion indirect income. Currently, about 1,200 hotels and guesthouses operate in the province. This master plan will complement a 2021-2025 three-phased national tourism roadmap and a 2021-2035 Siem Reap provincial tourism development master plan to map the sector’s emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic and support its recovery. The government has also agreed to designate Mondulkiri as an international eco-tourism destination and a major supplier of flowers, meat, and agriculture. The six key priorities set forth in the master plan includes the natural eco-tourism areas and corridors of the five wildlife sanctuaries; the Bou Sra-Dak Dam Cultural and Ecotourism Corridor; the provincial capital Sen Monorom town; and the development of a regional-level airport in O’Raing district. Meanwhile, the aforementioned USD80 million airport will be built on a 300-hectare site and is slated to break ground next year.
Malaysia’s Terengganu tourism sector has officially opened on 1 September 2021 to individuals who are fully vaccinated. State Tourism, Culture and Digital Technology Committee chairman, Ariffin Deraman, said that this reopening included popular island resorts such as Pulau Kapas in Marang, Pulau Redang in Kuala Nerus, Pulau Tenggol off Dungun and Tasik Kenyir located in Hulu Terengganu. With the tourism sector reopening, activities such as snorkeling and diving will be allowed, under the conditions that the domestic tourists are fully inoculated and adhere to public health protocols relating to COVID-19 prevention. Furthermore, accommodation services like lodges, home stays and hotels are also allowed to operate while large-crowd destinations like zoos, museums, theme parks and art galleries remain closed. Excluded from the reopening is Pulau Perhentian as COVID-19 cases were detected on the island. Meanwhile, Terengganu was third in average hotel occupancy for the first half of 2021, after Sarawak and Perlis. Terengganu registered an average occupancy rate of 35%, trailing behind Sarawak (62%) and Perlis (42%).
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