Southeast Asia sees only a trickle of international tourism
Southeast Asia, for decades a tourist hotspot, has slowly reopened to international tourists, but despite the door opening, most countries are seeing only a trickle of tourism at best. Businesses in the tourism sector like hotels, tour guides and many more have seen their livelihoods destroyed by the Covid-19 pandemic and are eager to see international travelers return.
But rules and restrictions and additional costs and various hoops are dampening enthusiasm and seeing the number of arrivals drastically reduced. Moreover, with the emergence of the Omicron variant, governments and authorities are constantly uncertain of new restrictions and closures that may take place.
Bali has long been one of the top tourist destinations in the world, with 50% of its economy coming from the tourism sector. In 2019, the tropical island saw the arrival of 6 million international visitors. In October, the government attempted to reopen to fully vaccinated travelers from a set of 19 approved safe countries.
With strict rules, only 2 people went to the island by boat at the port of Benoa because the international airport is not yet operational. Now, after 2 full months of reopening, only 45 people have arrived overseas, according to the local tourist board.
Thailand has welcomed more visitors than most countries, with more than 100,000 international travelers arriving in the country after reopening on Nov. 1 with multiple-entry programs. After strict Sandbox-first openings, the revised Test & Go program that allows tourists from 63 approved countries to enter with only a one-day quarantine pending RT-PCR test results has always been described as too complex and discouraged many applicants. travelers to come to Thailand.
The tropical island of Langkawi was the first tourist destination to reopen in Malaysia as the world tries to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. But while government officials and local businesses that depend on tourism had predicted and hoped for thousands of international travelers, only a few hundred have arrived so far.
Vietnam had planned several programs to reopen to international tourism, with the holiday island of Phu Quoc as the first trial before a wider reopening in the new year. But last month’s trial program attracted just a few dozen tourists, compared to November 2019 before the pandemic, when 1.8 million people visited the country.
THE SOURCE: New York Times
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