Welcome to our easy-to read analysis of Asia Pacific’s Top 5 travel takeaways: Issue #2.
This week’s snapshots feature Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines.
Each Monday, we deconstruct 5 travel and tourism stories you may have missed.
The Top 5 Travel Takeaways: Issue #2 is adapted from issue 69 of Asia Travel Re:Set.
1) Thailand Unveils ‘Tourism Fee’
The implementation of Thailand’s long-trailed THB300 Tourism Fee in April is proving controversial. Local media commented that the mandatory fee “will affect an already comatose tourism industry.”
Takeaway: Introducing a tourism fee is not a new issue in Thailand. It has been heavily trailed for several months, but the timing is awkward. The nation’s Test & Go quarantine-free entry scheme was suspended in December. This halted a notable – albeit gentle by pre-pandemic standards – upswing in international visitor arrivals since Test & Go was introduced on 1 November.
2) Malaysia Clarifies Entry Rules
New entry rules are introduced in Malaysia for fully vaccinated travellers who have recently contracted COVID-19. They will be permitted to enter the country without undergoing quarantine, subject to certain conditions. Visitors must present full documentation regarding their COVID-19 infection and current health status.
Takeaway: Malaysia has a highly vaccinated population, and is speeding ahead with its booster shot campaign. Once completed, it would be in a position – depending on the impact of a likely Omicron wave – to reopen its borders in a more meaningful way than at present. This initiative could be seen as a partial testing of the waters.
3) Domestic Tourism Investment in Indonesia
Indonesia’s state-owned tourism and aviation holding company InJourney “will develop domestic tourism [as] international travel is still restricted.” Domestic travel is cited as a means to revive Indonesia’s decimated tourism industry. But it needs investment to improve connectivity and infrastructure for the so-called 5 Super-Priority Destinations: Lake Toba, Borobudur, Mandalika, Labuan Bajo and Manado-Likupang.
Takeaway: The report by Indonesia’s state media features rare honesty from a national tourism industry figure. “I think it will be difficult to fully boost foreign tourists in this pandemic situation,” said InJourney’s Marketing Director. The world’s largest archipelago, which also counts South East Asia’s largest population, is targeting 330 million domestic trips this year.
4) Cambodia’s Visitor ‘To Do (and Don’t) List’
Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism has published a lengthy and detailed list of “Do and Don’t” regulations for visiting the country. The document also includes the potential punishments for disregarding the rules, which are fairly eye-watering.
Takeaway: Cambodia wants to promote itself as the ‘most open country in South East Asia’. It also aims to encourage tourists to stay longer and see more its attractions beyond Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. The country will need to up its marketing game. The 19-point list reads as one long, stern lecture, and is bookended by a list of fines and prison sentences that await visitors who infringe the rules.
5) Vaccines for Visitors in the Philippines
The Philippines imposes “yet another requirement on the few foreigners allowed to enter: they must be fully vaccinated.“ Although few foreign travellers are permitted to visit, those that do must be fully jabbed and take a PCR test no longer than 48 hours before departure to the Philippines. This is down from the previous 72 hours.
Takeaway: The Philippines is battling potentially its worst infection surge of the pandemic so far. Already the President has called the situation a National Emergency. The onset of Omicron forced the country to postpone its planned easing of visitor entry restrictions in December 2021. It now seems set for a longer period of travel isolation.