Southeast Asia has started to welcome Australian tourists with several nations introducing travel lanes and opening their borders.
Earlier this week, the first flight from Singapore touched down in Sydney – 590 days since international travel for tourism was halted by the pandemic.
There are also green shoots for other nations such as Thailand, with Thai Airways stepping up its Sydney to Bangkok flights from November 17.
The Thai government announced this week that it would remove all quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers from Australia and 62 other low-risk countries. Visitors will have to provide a negative PCR test result issued within 72 hours of departure and will be tested again on arrival. You will also need proof of insurance that covers treatment for COVID-19 up to the cost of US$50,000.
Visit tp.consular.go.th to apply for a Thailand Pass.
Bali, one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations, has opened to fully vaccinated travellers from 19 countries, but you must still quarantine in a hotel for five days and follow strict visa requirements under the new entry rules.
Tourism Minister Dan Tehan revealed last month in a Facebook Q&A that Bali is next on the list for Australia’s travel bubbles amid ongoing talks between the Australian and Indonesian governments.
“There’s a keenness from both the Australian and Indonesian governments to see what we can do with regards to Bali,” said Mr Tehan.
“It’s obviously an incredibly popular destination for Australians in particular, and tourism is such a huge part of the Balinese economy so we will continue to have discussions.
“There was the great news that the PM announced with Singapore (flights) and my hope would be Japan and South Korea and potentially Bali as the next sort of steps in that direction.”
This week, Jetstar was promoting its “2022 International Sale” for flights which will see Australians return to other Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam.
While Australian flights to Bali on the east coast started from $194 one way, West Australians were offered the cheapest fares in the sale. Perth to Denpasar started from $99 one way.
The World Travel and Tourism Council told The Straits Times a number of countries are recognising that border closures do not work and will only further hinder the recovery of the tourism sector and economies.
A spokesperson said: “As COVID-19 becomes endemic, international travellers’ mobility must be enabled in order to salvage the region’s economy.”
Meanwhile Cambodia is well ahead with its vaccination rate (currently 77 per cent fully vaccinated), which has allowed the country to welcome back vaccinated tourists from November 30. You can skip quarantine but must spend five days in one of the designated areas, such as Sihanoukville or Koh Kong, before travelling around, and also undergo several COVID-19 tests. Although the country’s restrictions have eased, travellers are being advised to monitor the situation. Prime tourist attraction Angkor Wat is not expected to be open until January 2022.
Singapore, which has one of the world’s leading vaccination rates, has introduced the Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme which allows quarantine-free travel with selected countries, including Australia.
The Smartraveller website (smartraveller.gov.au) was updated on October 28, with travel advice changing to reflect Australia’s open border. Travellers visiting many Asian nations (including Cambodia, Singapore, China, Indonesia, South Korea and Hong Kong) are advised to exercise a high degree of caution. Those wishing to visit Vietnam, Thailand or the Philippines are being advised to reconsider their need to travel.
Qantas and Virgin Australia require passengers to be fully vaccinated before they can board a flight.
We can expect many more border announcements in the coming weeks.