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Some countries in Asia have banked on ever-rising tourism. Without it, a growth engine for the region is sputtering. (Nikkei photo illustration/Source photos by Lauren DeCicca and Reuters)
The Big Story

Travel bug: Why tourism in Asia will never be the same

Bali's empty resorts, Thai luxury quarantine and an industry in crisis

DOMINIC FAULDER and ERI SUGIURA, Nikkei staff writers | Thailand

BANGKOK/TOKYO -- Bruno Huber says he is the happiest hotel manager in Bangkok: He actually has guests in his 293-room luxury property. A former Hilton, its legendary garden was once famous for fertility shrines dotted with large, garish wooden phalluses. Today, the garden is every bit as manicured and regal as before, but guests maintain a safe distance from each other as they tramp anticlockwise around the grounds, taking their pre-booked 45-minute exercise breaks.

As the coronavirus pandemic spread across Asia this spring, borders slammed shut to foreigners. Hotels in Thailand -- the fourth-largest tourist destination in the world -- are languishing. But Huber has ingeniously reinvented the Movenpick BDMS Wellness Resort Hotel, a 4.5-star property, for the age of COVID. It is now among the world's most desirable quarantine facilities.

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