Guidebooks in the Age of Covid in the Nikkei Asian Review

Thailand

I had just reached Don Sak pier, a coastal Thai ferry port for boats to the tourist islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, when I almost lost my mind.

I was at the end of a 10-week, 80-destination travel stint for the British publisher Rough Guides, researching the Thailand chapter for the first edition of the company’s Southeast Asia guide. It was 1999 and the internet had not yet become the world’s primary source of data storage. The ferry was full and my printed manuscript had never felt so heavy in my backpack. For a moment I was tempted to hurl the entire chapter into the sea.

In March 2020 I found myself back in Don Sak. I was returning to update one of my own guidebooks on the Gulf of Thailand islands for the German publisher Reise Know How. But when I arrived in Koh Phangan, my update was postponed to December. A few days later, Thailand and every other country in Southeast Asia closed its borders. Tourism ground to a halt. COVID-19 rudely interrupted more than 20 years of continuous work and travel.

Read my full story on how the guidebook industry is coping with Covid19 in the Nikkei Asian Review.

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