Is it possible that travel to Southeast Asia could be back up and running – maybe not quite business as usual but certainly close – by next spring?
Many countries in the region, including Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, are on the verge of relaxing restrictions in order to revive tourism this fall.
Predicting anything in recent years has proven to be foolish, and there are already concerns that the re-openings are happening too soon (these countries all have low vaccination rates). But it looks like the region, on a whole, is anxious to begin reviving the economy as they watch others open up around the world.
Most countries are being cautious, opening specific destinations within the country only. Indonesia, for example, is hoping to reopen Bali this month to foreign visitors. For Vietnam, it has announced planes to reopen Phu Quoc this fall.
Thailand has had parts of the country, like Phuket, open to foreigners since summer, albeit with a mandatory quarantine of 14 days, even for vaccinated travelers with a negative Covid-19 test.
Continuing that caution, it released perhaps the most comprehensive reopening roadmap, a four-month, four-tiered plan that kicks off October 1st and runs through January, opening new destinations every thirty days and reducing – but not eliminating – the mandatory quarantine for all travelers.
As a leader in Far East tourism, Thailand’s reboot will set the tone for the rest of the region. In this sense, watching it closely will tell us everything we need to know about how it might look in early 2022.
Here’s a break down of Thailand’s reopening plan:
The Pilot Phase will run the month of October and focus on island/beach destinations that already began to reopen this summer, including Phuket, Krabi, Ko Samui, and Ko Pha-ngan. The focus will be on reopening designated areas – beaches, resorts, public spaces, etc. – and expanding current offerings, staffing, etc.
At this time, the mandatory quarantine time will be reduced to 7 days for vaccinated travelers and 10 days for nonvaccinated travelers. Both groups must show a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival.
The First Phase begins November 1st and will reopen 10 new popular destinations, including: All areas of Bangkok, Krabi, and Phang-Nga, and designated areas in Chiang Mai, among many others.
In December, the Second Phase will kick in and 20 more provinces will open to foreigners, and in the Third Phase, beginning January 1st, 13 border provinces will welcome visitors again. You can see more of the specific destinations for the first, second, and third phases here.
If you don’t already have a trip to the East planned, chances are you won’t be headed there before the end of the year. But keep an eye on Thailand. By January, we should have a pretty good idea about whether a normal-ish spring trip to Asia will be possible.
published 2021-09-29 18:02:09