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Business trends

ASEAN tourism fears Lunar New Year chill with borders closed

As COVID chokes off foreign visitors companies woo locals with discounts

A view of the Marina Bay Sands, one of Singapore's most iconic locations. Many hotels in the city-state are offering takeout and delivery meals for Lunar New Year to make up for the loss of tourists.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Southeast Asia's tourism industry is working with governments to make the most of what is likely to be a subdued Lunar New Year by promoting domestic travel and shopping, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shut out visitors from abroad.

The Asia-Pacific region saw overseas arrivals drop by 300 million, or 84%, in 2020 compared with the previous year, according to the World Tourism Organization. That was the largest drop of any region in the world. With fresh waves of the deadly virus sweeping many countries in Southeast Asia, the slowdown has stretched into 2021.

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