Tourist sites in Southeast Asia are open, but visitors are scarce


In October, Indonesia reopened the fully vaccinated island of Bali for tourists from 19 countries. But only two foreigners arrived that month – by sea – and its airport had not yet received international flights.

One of the most popular destinations in the world, Bali is one of the many tourist hotspots in Southeast Asia that have recently reopened to international visitors – technically, at least. For local hotels, tour operators and other businesses that went without revenue in the early stages of the epidemic, the news first gave hope that 2021 would end in a positive note.

But traveling to these places from other countries is an endeavor – amidst the rules, fares, lack of aircraft and uncertainty surrounding new explosions – very few are concerned.

“Planning a very solid, short vacation for everyone is a very complex process,” said Stuart McDonald, co-founder of, a guide to Southeast Asia, about international travelers looking for vacations in the region.

Mr. who lives in Bali. McDonald said, “There will be people who will be determined to find it. But for anything, we have to wait a little longer.”

Polly, which accounted for more than half of the prebandom economy in 2019, received more than six million international visits in 2019. But that number is just 45 so far this year, said Deu Inda, head of the island’s officer’s marketing division. Tourism Office. All of those passengers came by sea from the international airport to the port of Benoit on the road.

“I do not know where they are coming from,” Ms. Inda said. “I have no details whether they are tourists or foreigners.”

Recent visit numbers to other Southeast Asian tourist hotspots are not very serious, but they are even worse by advance standards.

In Malaysia, only a few hundred foreign tourists have visited Langkawi since the resort island of Langkawi was partially opened to the public this fall – much lower than the thousands expected by the Local Development Authority.

In Thailand, more than 100,000 foreign visitors arrived in November as part of a segregated entry program for fully vaccinated tourists from dozens of countries. However, the country’s total attendance for that year – less than 270,000 – is still only a fraction of the 40 million that arrived in 2019.

In Vietnam, foreign tourists began to be deceived by dozens under pilot programs in November, but according to official data, in November 2019 the country did not come close to the 1.8 million international arrivals recorded. Projects were launched long before the Omigron variant was discovered, and the country’s case numbers reached new heights.

Part of the problem with Southeast Asia’s tourism is that China, the main source of visitors, has imposed a number of restrictions on its citizens going abroad – including the 14-day isolation when they return – with very few of them leaving.

Another problem is the lack of direct flights. For example, Cambodia reopened to international travelers last month and waived isolation for those who have been fully vaccinated and tested. But most travelers outside of Asia, who want to travel to the country, have to go through airports in other parts of the region, such as Malaysia. McDonald said. I.e. additional govt screening.

“It’s very complicated,” he said. “You’re stuck in isolation, you’re doing a positive test. Who’s got such a holiday?”

In the case of Bali, not only the absence of direct international flights, but also the documentation required to obtain a business visa for persons who have been fully vaccinated in Indonesia for 10 days. (Tourist visas are suspended.)

Ms Inda said Bali was currently focusing on domestic tourists, 12,000 of whom arrived by air last weekend.

The island is as ready as possible to resume international tourism, he added. More than 90 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, and more than 2,000 facilities have passed the Govt-specific health and safety survey.

“But if we talk about opening the borders, opening the country, the power is with the central government, it’s not easy, I’m sorry,” he said. “There are many ideas to consider.”


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