As Covid-19 continues to loom worldwide, countries are trying to implement plans to “live with Covid” and are considering reopening their borders. Countries that rely heavily on tourism in Asia-Pacific have announced their plans to reopen the borders with no restrictions for quarantine if the traveller is fully vaccinated. Thailand is one of the first countries in Asia to welcome travellers in hopes to alleviate the pressure put upon its economy during the pandemic, but what are the rest of these countries planning? Do we expect to see more reopening before 2022? Is it too early to travel on vacation?
It is not hard to imagine how heavily the pandemic has impacted Asia-Pacific’s tourism hub, and Thailand is eager to make a comeback in its tourism sector. Starting from the 1st of November, travellers will be allowed to enter the country if they have been fully vaccinated with two doses. Upon arrival, travellers are required to present a negative Covid-19 test result from their country of departure and will be tested again presumably upon arrival at the airport in Thailand. With two negative results, travellers are allowed to travel freely in Thailand like the locals. However, the opening of entertainment venues and alcoholic drink sales will not be permitted until the 1st of December. Furthermore, since July, the country has had over 10,000 new cases of Covid-19 per day, so maybe it is not time yet to experience Thailand at its fullest. Find out more on Thailand’s lifted restrictions here.
With major cities in Vietnam just being released of lockdown and quarantine restrictions still applying to minor cities, the country is still sceptical about reopening its tourism sector. Notwithstanding, the country has announced its plan to reopen one of its southern islands to pilot the isolated tourism reopening scheme due to its small population. Phu Quoc Island is famous for its exotic beaches and diverse wildlife in the coral reefs and is also a popular getaway for locals. Originally planned for September, the reopening of Phu Quoc Island is being pushed back to November due to the slower than expected rate of vaccination. Similar to Thailand, travellers are required to present a negative result, and they are allowed to travel freely on the island. Since July, the country has enforced its strictest lockdown requirements yet and has reduced the average number of Covid-19 cases to 3000 per day.
Earlier this month, New South Wales and Victoria announced that international travellers would be welcomed as long as they are fully vaccinated on the 1st of November. The states will also loosen the restrictions for international travellers who have not been vaccinated to enter the country starting from the 1st of December. However, only Australian citizens and residents will have the privilege to enter or leave the country for the time being. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that temporary residents with essential jobs are next, but no firm date or schedule is released for tourists to enter the country. Find out more about entry to Australia here.
After 18 months of closure, Indonesia plans to reopen Bali, the centre of the country’s tourism. Vaccinated travellers on its list of 19 low-risk countries are allowed to travel in Bali after a five–day quarantine in a hotel. Australia and UK are currently not on the list, but the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Uno stated that they would work continuously to make it happen on a safe and secure basis. According to the Health Ministry of Indonesia, the island of Bali has the highest vaccination rate in the country, with more than 82% of citizens fully vaccinated.
Whilst Asian countries battle for a head start to revitalise their tourism sector, the risks of Covid-19 are still inevitable. Some of these countries are one outbreak away from further lockdown measures. It is important to fully understand each country’s entry requirements and, more importantly, the country of departure in case the destination changes its requirement at the last minute. It may not be the best time to plan a vacation yet, but it is definitely a positive sign to see the tourism industry sprout after the long drought of Covid-19.