Government AffairsThe latest updates in travel reopening and restrictions for major destinations in Asia Pacific and around the world.

Travel updates: Which countries are opening up for tourism?

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Quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated Koreans could begin as soon as July if talks with Singapore, Guam and Thailand go through.
Quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated Koreans could begin as soon as July if talks with Singapore, Guam and Thailand go through. Photo Credit: Getty Images/NeoPhoto

Updated: 9 July 2021

As countries in Asia Pacific are stepping up their national inoculation programmes, plans on reopening to vaccinated travellers are coming onto the radar.

Here's a summary of the latest developments regarding border reopening in Asia Pacific and around the world. Be sure to bookmark this page or check back for updates that will be regularly added here.

Cambodia

Cambodia is working towards the possible reopening of the country, starting with Siem Reap, to international tourists by 4Q this year.

In June, the Cambodian Tourism Ministry has rolled out a new tourism campaign to attract foreign visitors by highlighting the visits of 35 world-famous celebrities, including Michelle Obama in 2015, to Angkor Wat.

Cambodia's current vaccination rate outpaces most other countries in the region.

As of 9 June, 2.3 million people had received both doses under the country’s mass vaccination campaign, which aims to achieve 80 per cent of the targeted 10 million people, reported Phnom Penh Post.

Cambodian authorities expect to achieve herd immunity for the country by June 2022.

Japan

A fourth state of emergency has been declared in Tokyo over the duration of the Games, due to kick off on 23 July to 8 August. The capital's neighbouring Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures are also under the same blanket ban.

Japan Olympics confirmed on 8 July a full spectator ban in host city Tokyo.

South Korea

Quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated Koreans could begin as soon as July if talks with Singapore, Guam and Thailand go through.

If the plan materialises, only group tours will be allowed initially with one to two weekly flights, each carrying some 200 passengers per way, according to the transport ministry.

Travellers must test for Covid-19 and produce negative results three days before departure, and test again at their arrival destination. Return to South Korea will be quarantine-free.

Singapore

So far, none of the Lion City's proposed bubbles have had any concrete results.

The twice-delayed Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble will be revisited in early July, Singapore's Ministry of Transport announced in early June.

Singapore is also working towards an air travel bubble with Australia to resume two-way travel, with Singapore students in Australia expected to be the first to benefit from this travel arrangement if it takes off.

South Korea and Taiwan are reported to be next in the travel bubble queue.

If the Covid clusters situation remains stable, authorities expect to further ease Covid-19 curbs starting 12 July.

As well, Singapore announced its goals to vaccinate 75% of its population by early October, and at least two-thirds by the country's National Holiday on 9 August.

Trade Minister Gan Kim Yong noted that by then, Singapore might be able to make a "bigger move" in opening up its borders to allow more visitors into Singapore, both for business and leisure.

There are also plans to conduct trails to allow vaccinated travel between Singapore and select destinations, in small groups. Should those prove successful, then the plan may be scaled up to allow more travellers in.

Indonesia

An initial plan to reopen Bali in end July or early August is now in limbo, after a surge in local Covid cases. Tourism minister Sandiaga Uno has indicated that Indonesia will wait until cases fall significantly before welcoming international visitors again.

Meantime, Indonesia's top island has unveiled another holiday scheme to draw tourists back — vaxcations — and travel agencies are jumping on board.

Also, earlier the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy had finalised travel corridor agreements with China, Singapore, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Further details on the Batam and Bintan travel bubble locations were also confirmed. Three Bintan resorts have been designated as green zones, as well as several golf centres in Batam.

In mid-April, Uno also announced that the three Gili Islands off Lombok’s northwest coast would also be connected to the designated green zone of Sanur in Bali.

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong government issued a joint statement with its Singapore counterparts on 10 June, indicating a "strong" commitment to launching the air travel bubble, which will be revisited in early July.

Quarantine for arrivals from countries perceived as low-medium risk, such as Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, have been reduced from 21 days to to 14 days.

From 1 June, Hong Kong has exempted the mandatory 21-day quarantine restrictions for senior bankers if they meet some specific criteria.

Thailand

Thailand is planning to reopen to fully vaccinated tourists without any restrictions in mid-October as a "calculated risk" move to protect livelihoods and the economy, announced Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Meanwhile, Phuket reopened to the world on 1 July under the Sandbox model, which allows tourists to visit the destination without quarantine requirements as long as the island remains the single arrival and departure point. They will be allowed to travel to other destinations after a 14-day stay on Phuket.

The Phuket Sandbox model is expected to be a trial to kickstart Thailand's tourism sector, with other destinations such as Koh Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai on the reopening queue.

About 50 million people in Thailand are expected to have received their first Covid jab by mid-October.

Australia

Australia is sticking by its plans to reopen to international visitors only from mid-2022.

Already, Qantas has announced pushing back its planned restart of international flights by October to the end of the year, based on a newly revised Covid-19 vaccine rollout timeline from the Australian government.

The carrier now plans to resume international service in late December, when the Australian government anticipates the country's vaccine rollout will have been completed.

On 18 April, Australia launched a two-way, quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand.

Malaysia

Malaysia, which has extended its national lockdown until 28 June, is not expected to reopen its economy and lift a ban on inter-state travel until end-October.

The country went into a lockdown — its third — on June 1 after daily Covid cases crossed the 9,000 mark.

Macau

Macau has reopened to mainland Chinese tourists without a mandatory 14-day quarantine, with the destination seeing a visitor spike during during May's Golden Week.

As well, Hong Kongers could travel to Macau as soon as mid-July, as the two governments are reportedly in earnest discussion of the proposed scheme.

Under this 'blue health code' scheme, Hong Kongers may skip mandatory hotel quarantine in Macau, but they must produce confirmation of two vaccine doses, and hold a negative Covid-19 test within the last 48 hours.

As well, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday 6 July that Singapore is a 'priority' on Macau's list when it comes to resuming international travel, but did not elaborate further.

Maldives

The Maldives fully reopened to all travellers since 15 July 2020.

Starting 15 July, the island will also welcome travellers from South Asia, who will need to produce a negative PCR test to enter. Previously, Maldives had since 13 May imposed a temporary ban for visitors from this region, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Mauritius

Mauritius will once again be welcoming international travellers, starting 15 July, but in phases.

In phase one from 15 July to 30 September, vaccinated travellers can freely move about their chosen resort's premises, including the pool and beach. Those who stay more than 14 days and can show proof of negative PCR tests while in the resort, can proceed to explore the island.

Next in October, vaccinated travellers who present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure will be able to enter without restrictions.

United States

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased its travel recommendations for more than 110 countries and territories, with Singapore moved to its safest level and the guidance on Japan revised just ahead of the Olympics.

The CDC list, released on Monday, 7 June, has lowered 50 countries and territories to Levels 1 or 2.

Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, Hong Kong, Israel and Iceland are ranked safest where fully vaccinated travellers from the US can go, while Level 2 — which includes Cambodia, Finland and Kenya — discourages travel for unvaccinated individuals who are at increased risk for severe illness due to Covid-19.

Europe

Europe is beginning to reopen its doors to non-EU travellers.

Spain, France, Portugal and Denmark are among the countries to have reopened to international tourists.

Rules and restrictions, however, differ among individual countries.

Meanwhile, the EU has approved the use of a new travel certificate beginning 1 July, enabling visitors to move between countries.

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