Vietnam Planning Travel Corridors

Earlier this week the first domestic Malaysian tourists arrived in Langkawi as it started to reopen for travel. Now Vietnam is planning similar domestic travel arrangements.

Main picture Vietnam countryside credit Kiril Borev on Unsplash

The plan is being prepared by the Airports Corporation of Vietnam and is designed to restart domestic tourism in the country and to ensure that processes are in place and ready for the resumption of international tourism in the future.

The proposed “Green Corridors” would include:

  • Green People – Fully vaccinated staff and passengers who have also tested negative for Covid-19
  • Green Infrastructure – Fully disinfected airports, aircraft and other transport
  • Green Procedures – All staff and passengers following required protocols including mask wearing, disinfection / cleanliness and social distancing

It is likely that, if approved, the plan will be phased to prioritise essential workers, followed by those in “safe areas” followed by all internal restrictions being lifted.

Source: VN Express International

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Malaysia Thailand And Vietnam Get New UNESCO Biosphere Reserves

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced a number of new Biosphere Reserves in Southeast Asia that are designed to preserve important natural landscapes and diversity.

Main picture Doi Chiang Dao Biosphere Reserve, Thailand

Announcement included popular tourist destinations in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam and will help to ensure sustainable development and tourism.

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve, Malaysia

Penang Hill is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia, attracting 1.6 million visitors each year. Situated on Penang Island, in a global biodiversity hotspot. It covers a surface area of 12,481 ha including 5,196 ha of marine areas and features Malaysia’s only meromictic lake whose bottom layer of seawater is covered by a layer of freshwater constituting a rare ecosystem that is home to fragile and threatened aquatic species, like the endemic toad Ansonia penangensis.

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve, Malaysia credit Habitat Foundation

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve is a mosaic of urban, agricultural and natural landscapes, with one of the last coastal rainforests in Malaysia, coastal lowland and hill dipterocarp forests, mangroves, wetlands, sandy beaches and coral reefs. These diverse habitats support a wide range of floral and faunal diversity, including endemic and endangered species such as Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica) and migratory birds. Its beaches are common nesting grounds for endangered sea turtles.

Penang Hill has been a major tourist attraction and a magnet for colonial officials and botanists in the 19th century. Since their creation in 1884, the Penang Botanic Gardens have served as a repository of Penang Hill’s flora and fauna which numbers over 2,400 plant species, including over 200 species of orchids.

Doi Chiang Dao Biosphere Reserve, Thailand

Doi Chiang Dao Biosphere Reserve is located in Chiang Dao District of Chiang Mai Province in Thailand. It is the only region in the country to be covered with sub-alpine vegetation, found also in the Himalayas and in the southern part of China. Many rare, endangered or vulnerable species live in the 85,909.04 ha biosphere reserve, such as the Lar Gibbon (Hylobates lar), leaf monkey (Trachypithecus phayrei), Chinese Goral (Naemorhedus griseus), Tiger (Panthera tigris), or Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa).

Credit Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

The landscape abounds with caves formed by the infiltration of rain water through limestone formations. The largest and most important of these is Chiang Dao Cave, from which the biosphere reserve takes its name. The cave is associated with the legend of Chao Luang Chiang Dao, the king of all spirits, who is believed to reside in the towering Doi Chiang Dao mountain; both are revered as sacred places. A Buddhist temple in the Lanna style marks the entrance of the cave. The cave and mountain attract many visitors each year, and a model for visitor impact management was implemented. Ecotourism, birdwatching and stargazing are further local tourist attractions. 

Agriculture using a traditional gravity-based irrigation system called Maung Fai is a notable activity in the site, where local practices and knowledge have been maintained over almost 800 years. 

Nui Chua Biosphere Reserve, Viet Nam

The 106.646,45 ha. Nui Chua Biosphere Reserve encompasses the terrestrial and marine areas of Ninh Thuan Province and is located at the end of the Truong Son Mountain Range where the climateis harsh with sunny, hot and arid weather and minimal rainfall The biosphere reserve is a representative area in terms of biodiversity with a rich and diverse mosaic of ecosystems characteristic of  the south-central region of Viet Nam, including unique semi-arid vegetation, sea turtle nesting beaches and coral reefs. 

Nui Chua Biosphere Reserve, Vietnam, credit Jhila on flickr

A total population of 447,162 people live in the site including the main ethnic groups of Kinh, Cham, Raglai, Hoa, Tay, Nung and Muong, all of whom have diverse cultures, artistic, religious and architectural traditions as well as numerous rituals and large festivals.

Kon ha Nung Biosphere Reserve, Viet Nam

Kon ha Nung is located in the highlands of Central Viet Nam, the so called ‘Roof of Indochina’, the highest peak of which reaches over 1,700 m. and extends over 413,511.67 ha and is home to 413,511.67 inhabitants. The biosphere reserve is also home to rare species such as the Gray-shanked douc (Pygathrix cinerea) a rare and endemic primate species of Viet Nam, classified as critically endangered, with only about 1,000 individuals in the wild.

The biosphere reserve is managedin line with the traditional knowledge of local communities including Indigenous and folk knowledge about production and social organization. The Gia Lai Province People’s Committee formulates policies concerning land and forest allocations to households, payment for forest ecosystem services and the development of sustainable ecotourism.

What is an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve?

Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. They are places that provide local solutions to global challenges. Biosphere reserves include terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each site promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.

Biosphere Reserves involve local communities and all interested stakeholders in planning and management. They integrate three main “functions”:

  • Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity
  • Economic development that is socio-culturally and environmentally sustainable
  • Logistic support, underpinning development through research, monitoring, education and training

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First Tourists Land In Langkawi Malaysia

[Reuters] The first plane carrying tourists in more than four months touched down on the Malaysian island of Langkawi on Thursday and was greeted by a twin water cannon “salute”, in the launch of a programme to revive a travel sector frozen by the pandemic.

Main picture a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying the first batch of tourists receives a water cannon salute from water trucks as Langkawi reopens to domestic tourists, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Malaysia September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

The first batch of 159 travellers from the capital, Kuala Lumpur, arrived eager for a vacation after a monthslong, nationwide lockdown imposed to address one of Asia’s highest per-capital coronavirus infection rates.

Tourists arrive at the airport as Langkawi reopens to domestic tourists, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Malaysia September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

Known for its beaches, geoparks, bird life and impressive rock formations, Langkawi, a group of 99 islands, is the test case in a drive to allow vaccinated domestic travellers to take part in holiday activities under agreed health protocols. 

“My last holiday was last year … countless months already, I felt like I’ll go mental also soon. So I’m excited and super, super happy and I’m thankful that the government is open about it and we can come and travel.”

Beverly Tiew from Kuala Lumpur

Tourists arrive at the jetty, as Langkawi reopens to domestic tourists, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Malaysia September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

The project is similar to Thailand, which has opened Phuket and Samui islands to vaccinated foreign tourists, while Indonesia’s Bali and Vietnam’s idyllic Phu Quoc island plan to follow suit. Malaysia, however, has yet to allow foreign tourists to return.

“This is a good opportunity to bring my daughter for a short holiday because she has been staying home you know for almost two years now.”

Hasan Kamil

Langkawi, in the Straits of Malacca, is not expecting huge visitor numbers initially, with a target of 400,000 people by the end of the year, and projections they will spend 165 million ringgit ($39.66 million).

Tourists wait for their luggage at the arrival hall, as Langkawi reopens to domestic tourists, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Malaysia September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng
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Malaysia has vaccinated more than half of its 32 million population against COVID-19. It has recorded over 2 million cases and more than 20,000 deaths.

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Bangkok Tourism Restart Delay

The chaotic restart of tourism in Thailand continues as the on-off reopening of Bangkok is delayed.

Main picture boats on the Chao Praya River in Bangkok, Thailand

Earlier in the summer the Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, announced a 120 day plan to reopen much of Thailand to international tourists, including Bangkok. This was despite Thailand being in the midst of its largest Covid-19 outbreak, centred on the city.

Confirmation came later that the planned reopening for Bangkok was to be 1st October.

On 6th September we reported that the opening would be delayed due to the slow vaccination roll-out in Bangkok. However just days later the Thai government announced that they were still working towards a 1st October start date, but that it may be limited to certain districts in the city.

Today however the Bangkok Post are reporting that the slow vaccine roll-out programme in the city will indeed see a delay until 15th October. Just 37% of the Bangkok population is currently fully inoculated against Covid-19 with a further 33% have received their first jab.

The change seems to have been prompted about concerns, previously raised in these pages, regarding how a limited district reopening would be practical and achievable without restricting tourists to hotels unless they were travelling on pre-arranged, approved, tours and sealed routes.

“The quarantine-free entry via Bangkok will benefit the whole country as tourists usually visit Bangkok as their first destination before travelling to other provinces. With the 7+7 extension plan which will be enabled at the same time, tourists can stay in the capital city for just seven days and choose another 8 provinces in the pilot reopening programme as their second choice.” Mr Phiphat said.

Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Thailand Tourism and Sports Minister via Bangkok Post

The Prime Minister has now been reported as asking ministries to speed up preparations to restart tourism in further areas of Thailand as high season rapidly approaches.

Bangkok at night credit Vitalijis Barilo on Unsplash

There are hopes that the Phuket Sandbox, the pilot tourism plan, can be expanded so that more islands secure areas with international airports can also become Tourist Area Sandbox locations.

Following the Prime Ministers call the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has released new guidelines which state [source The Nation Thailand]:

  • Survey what areas can be reopened under sandbox conditions in line with the Phuket Sandbox scheme. If they are islands, they can join the 7+7 sandbox extension. If they are areas that have airports, then a system can be set up to conduct Covid-19 tests on new arrivals.
  • Come up with prevention and control measures in areas that will be opened. Ensure locals are prepared and make enough vaccines available to curb the spread of the virus.
  • See if the areas to be reopened have enough hospital beds and medics to treat patients should infections spread.

Thailand Reopening Plan

The reopening plan in Thailand has always been ambitious and closely monitored by other countries in the region hoping to safely revive their tourism industry.

The Phuket Sandbox was launched on 1st July and has seen more than 32,000 foreign tourists arrive on the popular holiday island.

The Sandbox has not been all plane sailing however as increasing Covid cases, largely unrelated to tourism, resulted in closure of bars and entertainment venues, putting off many prospective travellers.

The Samui Plus programme launched on 15th July but has seen much lower tourist numbers due to the heavy restriction in place.

First tourists arriving in Koh Samui on 15th July 2021 credit Thailand Ministry of Tourism and Sports

The 7+7 Extension is however seen as being the solution to many of the problems being encountered. The plan would see tourists visiting specified areas for the first 7 days of their trip before being able to move to extension areas for a further 7 days. Multi-centre holidays were the most common trip pre-pandemic in Thailand.

There are also plans to simplify travel rules and set consistent requirements in all reopening areas to reduce the confusion on entry rules and requirements.

It’s not just Bangkok that has been struggling to meet the reopening schedule which has been under constant pressure and changes since it was launched.

There have been recent concerns over the readiness of Pattaya and Hua Hin to reopen on 1st October.

The latest plan is to follow a two-phase reopening [source The Nation Thailand]:

  • Phase 1 from 1st October – Areas ready to reopen under sandbox schemes.
  • Phase 2 from 15th October or 1st November – Reopening destinations that either have cultural attractions, mountains or seas in the North and the East of the country.

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Top Things To Do In The Andaman And Nicobar Islands

In this guest post from Unnati Khandelwal from Banbanjara we look at the delights of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands which although form part of India, are technically in Southeast Asia.

Indian Archipelago- The Andaman And Nicobar Islands

Main picture Andaman Islands credit Tantonomusic on Unsplash

An Indian archipelago seated in the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman Islands are about 300 islands in number admired for their palm-lined, white-sand beaches, tropical rainforests and mangroves. Remote islands of the region that are off-limits to visitors are inhabited by Indigenous Andaman Islanders

Top things to do in Andaman and Nicobar Islands covers from underwater scuba diving to swimming amidst coral reefs bracing the marine life of sharks and rays with colourful fishes.

Popular for diving and other water adventure activities, it exhibits captivating limestone caves, mangrove kayaking, underwater sea walking, snorkelling, and some fascinating hotspots to visit!

Beside the Andaman’s turquoise waters, soak under the sun and get that vacation tan, enjoy the time making sandcastles and capture some Insta-perfect photos with the breathtaking background.

This archipelago offers a cruise experience to swiftly travel from one island to another. Not limited to the charming beaches and underwater activities, the Andaman also presents you with an opportunity to trek and explore the wild tropical forests with a vibrant diversity of flora and fauna, an active volcano and spectacular scenery with utmost serenity.

Scuba Diving- The Best Of Marine Life In The Andaman

Andaman and Nicobar Islands are one of the top destinations in India embracing the serenity of nature with quiet and secluded barren islands and adventurous experiences that pertain to water.

Scuba diving in the Andaman Islands credit Debal Das on Unsplash

All underwater life enthusiasts get to dive in crystal clear water beholding the enthralling view of coral gardens and basalt formations to take away and cherish forever.

In addition, a certified guide is always provided for safety on your diving who leads you to discover the best of sea life in the Andaman. Planning to do an Andaman trip? Want to know more about various plans?

Sea Walking- Havelock Island

Havelock Island is found on the bucket list of many and is unarguably one of the most exciting places to traverse in Andaman Island tour with endless adventures in the Andaman Sea.

Havelock Island credit Tirthankar Gupta on flickr

This tour takes you to experience sea walking at 15-25 feet under sea level bounded with unworldly coral reefs of Andaman. For all the adventure enthusiasts, Sea Walking is a go-to activity in Andaman and the most exciting thing to do in Havelock, offering an opportunity to uncover the true underworld with the spectacle of vibrant and exotic fishes swimming all around you.

Don’t worry, the underwater photographers here handle the task to capture once in a lifetime sea walking experience and marine life memory.

An Active Volcano In The Indian Subcontinent- Barren Island

Last year as the most recent time of the volcanic eruption, Barren Island is the only confirmed active volcano in the Indian subcontinent with a sight to behold even when it’s not exploding.

With a diameter of hardly 3km, it is inhabited only by the toughest animals, like the Flying Foxes, some rodent species and goats. Among all the adventure hotspots in Andaman, this intriguing place becomes a must-visit.

Dolphin Glass Bottom Boat- Andaman Sea

Vacation in the Andaman Sea is a getaway to the otherworld with rich marine life. It grants an opportunity to observe the fish swimming amidst the rich corals and widely varied underwater vegetation.

The glass boat brings you to a variety of places where you can spot dolphins and feel the solitude of the underwater world along with your travel buddies or family. This unique activity goes for approximately 60 minutes and then returns back to the water sports complex.

The Limestone Caves- Baratang Island

The Andaman islands are a whole pack for a traveller with incredible things to do and places to visit. For all those who chase thrill and love mysterious places, the Andamans have got some amazing caves for you to explore.

Entrance to the Barantang Island limestone caves credit Ankur Panchbudhe on flickr

The limestone caves found hidden in the Baratang island, 150 km north of the capital city of Port Blair, is accessible by a ferry via a wide stream that leaves travellers mesmerized by the whole place.

The caves are of gigantic limestones made out of massive sedimentary rocks and thrill you to cross the narrow cave and discover its core. Some of the caves are pitch dark and thick that one has to burn a light to see anything inside.

Shop For Souvenirs- Aberdeen Bazaar, Port Blair

Any expedition remains incomplete without taking time to shop and explore the local area to take back souvenirs.

For Andaman & Nicobar Islands tour, Aberdeen Bazaar plays the role to offer you a variety of items made carefully by native artists available at friendly prices.

To reach the bazaar from the Port Blair Airport, it takes merely Rs. 7 by bus and you can get almost everything here.

Shopping at Aberdeen Bazaar is one of the top things to do in Andaman and Nicobar islands which serves to take away some tangible memories in the form of Jewellery, wood carvings, sweets or the Andaman t-shirts. It is also amongst the top things to do in the capital, Port Blair.

Unnati Khandelwal

Warm greetings to all the readers!

I’m Unnati Khandelwal, a budding writer endeavouring to unfold and manifest the world of imagination amidst prosaic reality through heartfelt words, inspired by nature and people. I am currently working at Banbanjara. You can also find my work at mysacredplace_ on Instagram.

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Langkawi Starts Tourism Reopening

[Reuters] Businesses at Malaysia’s prime holiday destination are gearing up to welcome the return of tourists this week, as the country takes an early step towards recovery from a devastating coronavirus crisis.

Main photo Langkawi credit Manish Tulaskar on Unsplash

Langkawi, a cluster of 99 islands in the Straits of Malacca, will reopen from Sept. 16 to fully vaccinated travellers as part of a domestic tourism bubble, with strict protocols in place to thwart the spread of the coronavirus.

Restaurant owner Esther Lee said she was excited the bubble was finally being launched.

“Finally we can welcome customers and this is actually our main source of income to actually survive,” she said.

“We have like staff under us, we have overhead costs to bear so we definitely need dining customers.”

The plan is similar to that introduced in Thailand, which started with the July reopening of Phuket, 220 km (137 miles) north of Langkawi, to vaccinated foreign tourists. Malaysia has yet to invite foreign tourists to return.

Like Phuket, Langkawi, known for its beaches, geoparks, bird life and rock formations, is not expecting huge numbers initially, with 400,000 visitors targeted by the end of the year and estimated revenues of 165 million ringgit ($39.66 million).

“We still do not want congestion even though we need a high number. What is important is that we can control the tourists to ensure their compliance,” said Tuan Nasaruddin Abdul Muttalib, head of the Langkawi development authority.

Malaysia has recorded 2 million coronavirus cases overall among its 32 million population, one of Asia’s highest per-capita infection rates, with more than 20,000 deaths.

Its vaccination programme has progressed faster than its neighbours, with more than half the population inoculated, in the hope of a quicker return to normalcy.

“A big sign of relief, the team is ready, everybody is very happy to welcome you know, our local tourists again,” said Arnaud Girodon, general manager of luxury resort The Datai Langkawi.

“We can’t wait to see them back.”

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Indonesia Aiming For Return Of International Tourists

The Indonesia Health Minister has said that the country aims to reopen to foreign visitors from November, once 70% of the population has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose.

Meanwhile restrictions in Bali are being relaxed.

Main picture Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia credit Saepul Jr on Unsplash

The minister was interviewed by Reuters and said that he was following the example in Britain which he said prioritised first doses and had seen a much lower rate of hospital admissions and fatalities.

“So for us we concentrate on the first dose. If we can vaccinate 70% of the target population of 208 million, if we can hit 140-150 million, 70% with the first dose, then we can gradually start reopening.

“And my calculation is that will be reached by November.”

Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Indonesia Health Minister [Reuters}

He did not go into any detail on what restrictions and requirements would be in place once border relaxations began but did say that they would be reduced once 70% of that target population had received two Covid vaccine doses.

Indonesia has so far recorded 4,174,216 cases and 139,415 Covid-19 deaths.

Bali

Tourist spots in most parts of Bali will now be able to welcome tourists again although they must still follow strict protocols including providing proof of their Covid vaccination status. “Firm action” has been promised against anyone who fails to follow Covid protocols.

The move has been the result of falling Covid levels on the island. Restrictions will continue to be reviewed on a weekly basis.

Entry restrictions for foreign visitors have however been tightened.

All foreign visitors must now serve an eight-day quarantine and take three PCR tests before they enter the island.

Source: Reuters.

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Singapore Winners In Worlds Best Airline And Airports List

The World’s Best Awards are compiled each year by Travel+Leisure who ask readers their travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. 

Main picture Changi Jewel credit Scribbling Geek on Unsplash

This year Singapore has won two, significant awards.

Singapore Airlines

In the airlines category, readers rated carriers on cabin comfort, in-flight service, food, customer service, and value.

Singapore Airlines can trace its history all the way back to 1947 although it was not created in its current form until 1972.

Singapore Airlines aircraft credit Troy Mortier on Unsplash

Pre-pandemic the airline flew to 137 destinations in 32 countries with India and Australia being key destinations for the airline.

Call it the king of the World’s Best Awards: Singapore Airlines is an unprecedented 26-time winner in T+L’s annual rankings, a year-in, year-out stalwart that impresses travelers with cosseting service, particularly in premium cabins.

“We felt like we were at home,” gushed one voter who traveled in the airline’s ultra-luxurious suites.

Many voters raved about the intuitive service on board, mentioning how flight attendants were always ready to lend a hand, refresh a drink, or go the extra mile. “Traveling with them is a dream come true — I’m not sure what more anybody could want,” said one impressed reader. Added another: “They’ve been my favorite for decades because they make most other carriers seem like amateurs.”

Travel+Leisure

The main airport hub for Singapore Airlines is Changi Airport.

Singapore Changi Airport

Readers rated airports on access, check-in/security, restaurants/bars, shopping, and design.

Singapore Changi Airport credit Shawnanggg on Unsplash

Opened in 1981 Changi Airport catered for 68.3 million passengers in 2019 the most in its history which made it the seventh busiest airport in the world (by international passenger traffic) and the third busiest in Asia.

Considered the best of the best by T+L readers for nearly a decade, Changi continues its dominance of the World’s Best Awards this year.

Though the pandemic has curtailed many trips to Singapore, the city-state’s jaw-dropping international airport remains beloved for its nearly flawless operations, marvelous array of restaurants (including many that serve local fare), and plenty of things to see and do, including a butterfly garden, a cinema, even a rooftop pool. “It is unquestionably the best airport in the world, with lots of shopping, dining, and fabulous areas for children,” said one voter. “It really is as good as everyone says it is,” added another respondent.

Even travelers who weren’t expecting to enjoy Changi found themselves singing its praises. “I was stuck there for three hours — thanks to my airline, not the airport — and it didn’t bother me at all because there’s so much to see and do,” said one convert.

Travel+Leisure

Changi Airport currently has four terminals with a fifth in development.

Jewel Changi Airport was initially conceived to increase capacity of Terminal 1 but soon developed into an ambitious project to become a destination in its own right and to increase its popularity as a hub and stopover destination for travellers.

Changi Jewel credit Danist Soh on Unsplash
Changi Jewel credit Cattan2011 on flickr

The Jewel is now a stunning mixed-use development with gardens, attractions, retail, dining, a hotel and facilities to support airport operations.

Attractions in the Jewel include an indoor forest and rain vortex, hedge and mirror mazes, spectacular canopy bridge, sky nets, topiary park and much more.

Changi Airport has won the Skytrax Airport of the Year award every year from 2013 until 2020.

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Thailand To Simplify Tourism Entry Details

Since Thailand reopened to foreign travellers with Phuket in July there has been confusion over the entry requirements for tourists.

Main picture Chiang Mai temples credit Peter Borter on Unsplash

This was only made worse when Koh Samui opened later that month with very different entry requirements. Then the Phuket Extension started with another different set of requirements.

The situation looks set to become even more complicated once further areas of the country reopen in October and Koh Samui amends its entry requirements to mirror those in Phuket.

Now however it looks as if the country is looking to simplify the situation later this year, by introducing a “One SOP, One System” (OSOS) policy that will see the end to mandatory quarantine and sealed routes.

There are also hopes that the cost of the three required PCR tests can be significantly reduced.

“Under this plan, every province will apply the same SOPs which will enable tourists to travel freely within designated areas in each province.”

“Tourists are simply required to follow the guidelines, such as activating the Mor Chana app and being checked daily by SHA Plus manager [hotel manager in SHA Plus hotel], instead of being kept in quarantine or only travelling under a tour programme.”

“We will try to halve the RT-PCR price and allow tourists to use antigen test kits for their second and third tests. The package price should be universally applied to every province from October, including the Phuket Sandbox.”

Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

The move is unlikely to happen prior to the planned October reopening of Bangkok, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phetchaburi.

Plans in Chiang Mai and Pattaya have always been focused on specific districts within the city with sealed routes in place for the movement of tourists in the wider area.

Hua Hin is hoping to have an extended opening area but there are concerns on how movement outside of this area can be controlled.

The deputy provincial governor of Phetchaburi has confirmed that the province will be ready to reopen as planned next month.

Bangkok will see specific districts reopening with the city being divided up into 21 inner districts plus an area including Suvarnabhumi airport. It is not yet clear which of the districts will be scheduled to reopen on 1st October.

Source: Bangkok Post

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Phu Quoc Tourism Reopening Details

Last week Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh gave the go ahead for Phu Quoc to be the first area of the country to welcome foreign tourists since March last year. More details have today been released on the pilot scheme.

Main picture Phu Quoc beach, credit Stefan on flickr

The six-month pilot scheme will be split into two phases.

The initial phase starting in October will run for three months lasting and will welcome between 3 and 5,000 international tourists each month on direct charter flights to the island. Activities will be limited to specific areas.

If the first phase goes well the second phase will see up to 10,000 international tourists per month who will be able to arrive on commercial flights. Available sites in Phu Quoc may be extended at this point.

All tourists will need to have pre-booked tours from approved travel agencies.

Visitors will only be allowed from countries deemed to high levels of Covid-19 prevention and control predominantly from Northeast Asia, Europe, the US, the Middle East, and Australia.

All tourists must have proof of being fully vaccinated or that they have recovered from Covid-19 within the last 12 months – it is not clear how this will be proven. They will also need to have a negative PCR test issued within 72 hours of departure. Children under 12 will not need to be vaccinated but must be travelling with parents / guardians who meet the entry requirements.

Tourists will need to install either the Vietnam Safe Travel or the Healthy Vietnam mobile app and make a medical declaration. They will also be required to follow all Health Ministry requirements throughout their stay:

  • Face masks (khau trang),
  • Disinfection (khu khuan),
  • Distancing (khoang cach),
  • No gatherings (khong tu tap),
  • Health declarations (khai bao y te).

Source: Vietnam Plus

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