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Working Paper on Covid-19 and Post-Covid Transitions

The Institute of Asian Studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam is pleased to announce the publication of IAS Working Paper No 79: Covid-19 and Post-Covid Transitions: Case Material from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in a Southeast Asian Context by Victor T. King.

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Abstract: During the past two decades, the Southeast Asian region (ASEAN) has experienced a range of serious crises affecting the tourism industry and related services, including natural and environmental disasters, epidemics and pandemics, global financial slumps, terrorist actions and political and military conflict.

The latest challenge has been the “Novel Coronavirus” (Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2) pandemic which began to make a profound impact from the first half of 2020. It has had damaging consequences for tourism development and economic growth in all the ASEAN countries, but some have suffered more than others. These difficulties are set to continue in 2023 and into 2024; though there are signs of recovery and of the resilience of the tourism industry.

The paper examines this process of post-Covid-19 recovery, taking the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR or Laos) as a case study, and giving consideration to the continuities and discontinuities in the tourism industry and the transition from the environment of lockdowns and restrictions to the re-opening of borders and the increasing movements of people.

Tourism in the Lao PDR is rather neglected in the literature and attention to how the country is faring in its attempts to retrieve its 2019 pre-pandemic position is crucial in attempting to understand how the tourism industry there will develop in the next several years. Tourism was the major source of foreign exchange in 2019 and its decline has therefore amplified the economic pressures which the Lao PDR is continuing to experience.

Victor T. King is Distinguished Professor of Borneo Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam and Emeritus Professor in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, University of Leeds. He was formerly Executive Director of the White Rose East Asia Centre, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield (2006-2012). He has long-standing interests in the sociology and anthropology of Southeast Asia.

Among his recent publications are an edited book, UNESCO in Southeast Asia: World Heritage Sites in Comparative Perspective (2016, NIAS Press), and co-edited books on Human Insecurities in Southeast Asia (2016, Springer), Borneo Studies in History, Society and Culture (2017, Springer), Tourism and Ethnodevelopment: Inclusion, Empowerment and Self-determination (2018, Routledge), Tourism in East and Southeast Asia (2018, Routledge 4-volume reader), Tourism in South-East Asia (Routledge reprint 2019, with a new Preface).

His recently published papers have appeared in Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia; South East Asia Research, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Current Issues in Tourism, Journal of Human Security Studies, Suvannabhumi: Multi-disciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies, Asian Journal of Tourism Research, Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Research and Pertanika: Journal of the Social Sciences and Humanities.

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