Asian countries are implementing or planning policies to reopen international travel, as the COVID-19 pandemic takes toll on the worldwide economy. Thailand and Singapore are among the first countries to implement these policies, while others are actively planning for a reopening by 2021.
Tourism is important for the economies of many Asian countries, and if borders continue to be closed, the consequences would be dire compared to the virus itself. Moreover, with COVID-19 already spreading worldwide, a complete closure of borders no longer works as an effective quarantine. It’s important to allow safe travel in order for the economy to be able to recover.
To reopen tourism, however, is also a political question—how do leaders ensure people are at ease with welcoming tourists again? The bottom line—reopen gradually, boost up with testing, and be strict with quarantine. Beyond that—relax and be ready for travel!
Being the prime tourist destination of Southeast Asia, Thailand is eager to reaccept international tourism.
In October, Thailand started the Special Tourist Visa for tourists who will stay for at least 90 days, subject to a 14-day quarantine and insurance requirements. The scheme is open to people from countries with low risk of COVID-19, but the government is considering changing the criterion to cities to assess the risk more accurately.
Business travellers from low-risk countries are also welcome as part of the reopening.
Singapore and Hong Kong
On 15 October, the two prime international financial hubs of Asia announced an air travel bubble with each other, heralding a new start in international travel in Asia.
The agreement, once implemented, means travellers from either city no longer have to quarantine on arrival.
Singapore also made an agreement with Germany on resuming travel, outlining COVID-19 test and declaration requirements. Similar agreements with other Asian and European countries are expected to come.
The Land of the Rising Sun is among the more conservative of countries planning for a reopening of general travel, delaying the reopening until April 2021 right before the Summer Olympics as rescheduled. With the Games at stake, the country is considering a system of public health centres in Tokyo to deal with coronavirus symptoms. There will also be testing, insurance and reporting requirements for incoming travellers.
Mainland China and Taiwan
Taiwan doesn’t have a confirmed plan for reopening yet, although it made an agreement with Japan on reopening business travel.
Thailand Championship on track
The Thailand International Orienteering Championship set for 30 Dec–3 Jan will continue.
Visitors entering through the abovementioned Special Tourist Visa scheme will certainly be able to join, after their 14-day quarantine period. For shorter term visitors, we’re still waiting for the exact terms of travel and quarantine.
Expect something fun during your quarantine in Thailand—stay tuned. Remember, the quota is limited and prices increase with number of runners—you can join the virtual race first, and switch to the physical race later.
Special promotion—Lumonite Compass R trail running headlamp 1200 lm
We’re partnering with the Finnish headlamp brand Lumonite to light up the orienteering and trail running scene in Asia!
It’s also possible to buy the headlamp as a standalone item and enjoy worldwide shipping on Metvishop, our new main webshop.