Tourism hubs like Bangkok, Bali, and potentially Phu Quoc Island are welcoming vaccinated travelers in less than a week while other Asian countries seem to be taking a more cautious approach in reopening their border. For further information regarding the entry requirements of the reopening countries, click here. For now, let us look into countries that are taking a different approach in their border control.
Since January, Japan has imposed strict border controls, allowing only citizens and others with special status to enter. The ministry of health is considering lifting border restrictions progressively after the parliamentary election on 31st October. The priority to enter the country will be given to short-term business travelers and reopening the country’s tourism sector is not possible before 2022. Notwithstanding, Australians who are eager to visit may be in luck, as Jetstar has launched a sale to promote international flights starting in February 2022. The sale includes a one-way ticket from Cairns to Tokyo or Osaka as early as February. As for now, the official tourism website suggests the country is closed for tourism.
Singapore has introduced quarantine-free Vaccinated Travel Lanes, (VTL), for travelers arriving in the country back in September. Initially allowing travelers from Germany and Brunei to enter with negative PCR test results, the VTL is adding Australia and Switzerland to their list of countries starting from 8th November. Furthermore, South Korea will also be added on the 15th of November with more countries like New Zealand and Japan on the table. Singapore is the leading country to reopen its border to the world after shifting its strategy of achieving “Covid Zero” to “Live with Covid”.
The Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam, has announced in a conference held on Tuesday to axe most of its quarantine exemptions in order to satisfy the border requirement imposed by Beijing. Previously, Hong Kong had granted quarantine exemptions for foreign workers categorised as crucial for the city’s economy and daily operations including the likes of flight crew, diplomats, and business leaders. Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman was exempt and able to skip quarantine to film a TV show in a crowded setting in Hong Kong last month, stirring controversy among the public.
As reported earlier, Vietnam has implemented a four-phase plan to restart domestic travel after strict lock-down measures were lifted in major cities. The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has outlined a similar plan to reboot international flights and was approved by the Ministry of Transport. The first phase will allow international travelers to enter the country with a pre-booked tour package from a designated agency, and is expected to commence as soon as November. Phase two, scheduled in January 2022, will allow regular commercial flights to carry fully vaccinated travelers. CAAV expects commercial flights from a range of Asian countries as well as Russia, one of the country’s main sources of tourists. Depending on the actual situation, phases three and four are anticipated in April and July respectively with the final phase allowing international flights to operate according to demand.
As the role model in Asia in preventing the spread of Covid, Taiwan is insisting on its strategy to keep “Covid Zero”. With the vaccination rate expected to hit just 30% in late October, the Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih Chung, suggested on Monday that Taiwan are not ready to open the border.
Currently, we think that at least 70 percent of the population needs to receive their first dose and 60 percent have to be fully vaccinated to achieve a basic level of immunity.
Meanwhile, tourism groups in Taiwan are applying pressure to the government to relax border restrictions as they suggest hotels in Taipei rely heavily on international travelers and that the industry is “dying”.
In brief, Asian countries are splitting their border control strategies into “live with Covid” and “Covid zero”. Whilst it may be too early to judge whether the decisions are appropriate, travelers are surely delighted to see some of our favourite tourist destinations reopen.
Would you rather “live with covid” or keep “Covid zero”? Let us know below!