It’s our final post of our review of the year and also final post of 2021.
We would like to wish all of our readers a very happy new year and lets hope that 2022 offers us all more welath & happiness, better health and, of course, lots of Southeast Asia travels.
Our review of the year included Thailand announcing a new tourist tax and the top scuba diving sites in Bali in part 1, Thai Airways and Philippines Airlines both announcing massive cuts in part 2, the launch of our A to Z of Southeast Asia and incredible street art in Singapore in part 3, Southeast Asia areas featured in TIME magazines World’s Greatest Places and the return of tourists to Thailand with the launch of the Phuket Sandbox in part 4 and the gradual reopening of more areas of the region and winners of the World Travel Awards in part 5.
A very busy month as more of Southeast Asia started to announce plans to welcome back foreign visitors.
Main picture Koh Rong, Cambodia credit Dara Keo on Unsplash
The very first quarantine-free tourists, apart from an initial one-night wait for PCT test results, arrived in Thailand at the start of the month, utilising the Thailand Pass and seeing restrictions relax in the country. Alhough a number of issues were reported with the Thailand Pass.
Out of the blue Cambodia announced that all restrictions on fully vaccinated tourists were lifted.
Vietnam confirmed the return of tourists to the country, albeit with restriction movements in their tourist destinations.
Malaysia announced plans to reopen to foreign visitors by 1st January 2022 and shortly after Langkawi became the first area in the country to reopen.
The Philippines announced its tourism reopening date only to delay it a few days later as the Covid-19 Omicron variant started to become a concern. Singapore also implemented Omicron related travel changes. We also looked at the 8 most romantic places in the Philippines.
Despite ongoing troubles following the coup in Myanmar earlier in the year, plans were announced to reopen borders to foreign travellers.
Waterfalls around Southeast Asia were named as among the most beautiful in the world.
A Komodo Dragon breeding programme was launched but elsewhere things looked much less positive as we reported on the threat to coral reefs worldwide. There was also concern that a La Nina event could cause climate issues affecting tourism in the region.
We also launched out very first restaurant review. The Thai themed District in Manchester, England.
The month started with news that Thailand had reversed their decision to remove PCR tests for arrivals under the Test and Go as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 started to take hold. Cambodia and Malaysia quickly followed with additional restrictions. Test & GO was suspended just before Christmas as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 threatened another outbreak.
Thailand also launched a sustainable travel plan for the Phi Phi islands, eased restrictions and then relaxed them again before they announced New Year alcohol plans. A new travel website was launched to help travellers and then entry rules were relaxed further. The lack of tourists resulted in more turtles returning to the Phuket area and there was finally confirmation of the reopening of Maya Bay, home of The Beach.
The lack of tourists in the Phillipines had some positives as well as negatives. We looked at a beach which had seen pollution levels drop considerably but on the flip side we saw a struggling artist who needs tourists to return to restart his business and news that popualr tourist destionation Siargao had been devastated by Typhoon Ria.
Vietnam saw the return of small numbers of tourists and plans by Hue to welcome tourists back before the end of the year. In Hoi An there were plans to ban the sale of cat and dog meat, both seen as delicacies and the end of elephant riding.
Laos announced its reopening plans from early 2022 and Singapore joined Thailand in suspending travel arrangements due to Omicron. As the threat of Covid-19 loomed heavily again we looked at if booster vaccinations would be able to save travel.
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