The tourist attractions of Southeast Asia are open, but there are hardly any visitors
More than 100,000 foreign visitors arrived in Thailand in November as part of a quarantine-free entry program for fully vaccinated tourists from dozens of countries. But the country’s total number of arrivals for the year – less than 270,000 – is still a tiny fraction of the 40 million that came in 2019.
In Vietnam, dozens of foreign tourists came in as part of pilot programs in November, but these numbers are nowhere near the 1.8 million international arrivals the country recorded in November 2019, according to official figures. The programs were launched before the Omicron variant was discovered and case numbers in the country hit a new high.
Part of the problem for Southeast Asia’s tourism industry is that China, a major source of visitors, has placed so many restrictions on its citizens traveling abroad – including a 14-day quarantine on their return – that very few of them do Leave the country.
Another problem is the lack of direct flights. Cambodia, for example, reopened to international travelers last month and waived quarantine for those who are fully vaccinated and undergoing a test. However, most travelers from outside Asia who want to visit the country would have to travel through other aviation hubs in the region, such as Malaysia, McDonald said. That means additional Covid screenings.
“It’s just too complicated,” he said. “You are in quarantine and test positive. Who wants to have a vacation like that? “
As for Bali, the reasons for not visiting are not only the lack of direct international flights, but also Indonesia’s 10-day quarantine for fully vaccinated people and the paperwork required to apply for a business visa. (Tourist visas have been suspended.)
Ms. Indah said that Bali’s focus is currently on local tourists and that 12,000 of them arrived by plane last weekend.