It’s a good time to be a professional bug killer in Asia.
Fears of major bedbug outbreaks have been palpable across the Asia-Pacific region for weeks, amplified by breathless news media coverage of an outbreak in France earlier this year and a smaller, more recent one in South Korea. Those cases, along with a general rise in post-pandemic travel, have stoked fears — grounded in reality — that airline passengers will inadvertently seed outbreaks in other places.
In Hong Kong, recent reports of a bedbug sighting on an airport train led to several days of feverish news coverage. And in Seoul, teams of workers in white hazmat suits have fanned out across an airport looking for possible infestations.
So far no major bedbug outbreaks have been reported in Asia this fall, but some residents and municipalities are already hiring pest-control companies or buying pest-control supplies with abandon.
Exterminators say they are fine with that.
“Bedbugs have always been around,” but consumer interest in pest control has risen lately as a result of news media coverage, said Darian Ee, the director of Ikari, a pest-control company in Singapore that has seen a 10 percent to 15 percent uptick in business since the outbreak in France. “It’s more top of mind.”
Bedbug mania is not new unique to Asia, of course. The bloodsucking pests are a common feature of urban life around the world, including in New York City. But if Paris is the season’s unofficial world capital of bedbug anxiety (trailed perhaps by London), then Asian megacities like Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore are rising quickly in the league tables.
In South Korea, where only a handful of cases have been reported over the past decade, recent reports have put the public and the news media on high alert. So far there are at least 13 confirmed cases and a few dozen suspected ones nationwide. That was enough for the government to launch a four-week prevention-and-disinfection campaign in dormitories, buses, trains and other public places.
“Public anxiety is inevitable as reports continue to come in,” Park Ku-yeon, the official in charge of the campaign, told other officials recently.
Another inevitability: profits for exterminators. Bloomberg News reported this month that the share prices of several South Korean pest-control firms had risen by 30 percent or more after news reports about bedbugs. Yonhap, a South Korean news agency, reported that sales of bedbug insecticides at one online mall rose more than 800 percent during the first week of November compared with the same period last year.
As normal travel resumes after the pandemic, it is inevitable that international travelers will help to spread bedbugs around the world, said Chow-Yang Lee, a professor of urban
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The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) announced that Hong Kong has won IBTM, the world’s leading Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) event brand, to organise its inaugural MICE trade show IBTM Asia Pacific 2025, in Spring 2025 in Hong Kong.
In Britain, the Sunday roast is sacrosanct. Gathering together around a beautifully cooked joint of meat, with lashings of gravy, vegetables and billowing Yorkshire puddings, is, for many, the weekend’s social highlight. And where better to do to this than the pub? Not only do you avoid the washing-up but, centuries after the French dubbed Brits les rosbifs, you get to enjoy the roast at its most modern. In recent decades, Britain’s best pub chefs have, by focusing on seasonal ingredients, rare-breed meats and painstaking preparations of roast potatoes or root vegetables, brought a fresh glamour to this Sunday afternoon ritual.
Travel searches by Indian travelers for Thailand have spiked. Online travel agency Agoda’s search data for the peak December travel period shows recent visa policy changes have impacted travel preferences and top destination choices for Indian travelers.
The popularity of Korean skincare, beauty, and wellness products—collectively dubbed K-Beauty—has soared in recent years, and for good reason. With an emphasis on naturally-sourced ingredients, achieving healthy complexions without potentially harsh ingredients like retinol, and accessibility, South Korea has proven to the rest of the world it’s unlocked the secrets to great skin for everyone.
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