The Asia-Pacific area has been among the slowest and most cautious in the world when it comes to reopening to international tourism, with several governments still implementing quarantines and severe vaccination and testing restrictions for foreign leisure travellers.
Tourism-reliant economies are taking cautious baby steps to reopening albeit reluctantly and with many restrictions still in place. It’s not less than a surprise that almost every day over the past two months, countries across Asia have unveiled plans to loosen pandemic restrictions on inbound tourism. India being the first country announcing to resume issuing tourist visas for visitors across the globe on Nov 15, 2021.
While fully vaccinated Americans are able to fly to hundreds of towns and cities across the country and 27 European capitals, border rules across Asia remain stricter than in any other region around the globe.
Following are the list if Asian destinations that are finally cracking open for tourism:
Soon after this announcement, Singapore expanded its quarantine-free travel lanes beyond just Brunei and Germany. Vaccinated visitors from a handful of countries, including Spain and Britain, won’t have to quarantine themselves to visit Singapore. Tourists from only four places in Asia- China, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong, will be allowed to enter after applying for a special pass.
Various Indonesian islands including Bali, already opened up on October 14. The list of eligible countries from where visitors can visit Indonesia is longer, with visitors from 19 countries cleared to visit Bali and the Riau Islands. People from India, which has vaccinated about 25% of its population, are good to travel. But those from Singapore, which has vaccinated 82%, or Malaysia, 72%, aren’t yet welcome.
The regulations in the Philippines are somewhat confusing. Two visitors were sent back to Singapore after they arrived without proper visas. The reason behind this was that the Philippines had only opened travel for humanitarian or business reasons.
Thailand’s PM on October 11, announced that Thailand welcomes all the fully vaccinated tourists to visit many of its parts without quarantine from November 1 onwards. Thailand’s approach is somewhat different from other countries. It does not require visitors making any stopovers. Travellers can visit the islands of Phuket without quarantining if they arrive on a direct flight, the rest of the parts of the country can be visited after seven days of the arrival. Quarantine-free arrivals to the rest of Thailand will be open for vaccinated travellers from November 1, 2021 as per an official report.
In October, the VN Index in Vietnam increased by roughly 4% due to a drop in viral cases. Any increase in vaccination rates, as well as the reopening of manufacturing factories, are seen as catalysts for further near-term advances toward the benchmark’s July high.
Other renowned tourist spots on the island of Borneo, such as Tioman Island, Johor, Melaka, and the state of Sabah, are expected to see an increase in domestic visitors, according to the government. According to Malaysia’s tourist administration, Malaysia hinted at a reopening in December, 2021.
Even the parts of Australia, which has had the most rigid travel protocols will welcome visitors from November. Sydney, New South Wales, is open for business for double-vaccinated people around the world. For vaccinated foreign travellers, most other countries in the region, including China and Japan, still require visas. Tourists have yet to be granted permission to enter.
Vaccination remains crucial
Despite an increase in Covid-19 cases in recent months as a result of the Delta variant’s dissemination, the decision to relax border restrictions was made feasible by increased vaccination, especially in critical supply markets.
This has resulted in a drop in infections in many circumstances, making quarantine-free travel a more viable alternative.Despite the fact that vaccination rates are increasing in industrialised countries such as Europe and North America, the situation in South-east Asia remains very variable. Increasing immunisation rates and endemic strategies have paved the way for long-term economic growth.