Singapore, Thailand, considering alternatives to ‘travel bubbles’ . . .
While many countries have abandoned their ‘travel bubble’ plans due to a resurgence of COVID-19 infections, some Southeast Asian countries are considering alternative agreements to revive their tourism sectors. Last week, Singapore announced it would allow visitors from New Zealand and Brunei on tourist visas starting September 8. Authorities will require a negative test from tourists, but no quarantine. For its part, Thailand is considering allowing long-stay tourists to Phuket Island starting on October 1. Tourists will have to undergo testing and quarantine for 14-days in their resort. The Phuket reopening model will act as a pilot for six tourist regions across Thailand that could reopen this year.
Reopened tourism lead to COVID spikes in Maldives, French Polynesia . . .
The Maldives and French Polynesia, two small tourism-dependent island economies in the Asia Pacific, have reopened to tourism and have abolished mandatory quarantine and testing requirements. COVID-19 cases have subsequently increased nearly eightfold in French Polynesia and threefold in the Maldives. Countries that rely heavily on tourism have had to make difficult decisions to save their countries from economic ruin and COVID-19. Against a backdrop of COVID-19 surges in French Polynesia and the Maldives, Singapore and Thailand’s experiences will help assess the efficacy of quarantine and testing requirements as tourist areas reopen.
Most Southeast Asian countries retaining strict travel restrictions . . .
APF Canada has been tracking international non-essential travel restrictions across the Asia Pacific region as part of the COVID-19 response mapping initiative. The project’s ‘International Travel’ map displays international travel bans and entry restrictions while also showing the adverse effect on flight traffic and each jurisdiction’s dependence on tourism. While strict international travel bans in Southeast Asia resulted in a decline of 87-to-96 per cent in international flight traffic compared to pre-pandemic levels, most jurisdictions are planning to remain closed to tourism until 2021. With 16 per cent of its GDP relying on international tourism, Cambodia is the most vulnerable country in Southeast Asia, ahead of Thailand (13 per cent), Singapore (6 per cent), and Malaysia (6 per cent).
- APF Canada: Mapping the Asia Pacific's COVID-19 Response
- Bangkok Post: Little backing for govt's plan to reopen
- The Straits Times: Reopening S'pore's borders to NZ and Brunei travellers a small step to reviving Changi Airport