Last week, the travel industry worldwide, particularly in Asia, was excited to hear about imminent potential border openings in Singapore and Thailand.
These stories come at a promising time for the industry where numerous developments seem to be heading in an exciting direction, leading to the hope of renewed widespread travel. Naturally, we’re incredibly excited at the prospect of offering amazing travel experiences in these destinations again.
However, it is essential to separate fact from fiction and establish a clear and accurate picture so we can help you advise your customers correctly.
So, here it is, a rundown of what we know and what it means for travellers.
While Singapore has been experiencing a rise in Covid cases within the last month, the government has recently re-committed to pursuing a ‘living with Covid’ policy. The belief is that, with such a high vaccination rate among the local population, the spread of the virus can be contained and its negative effects minimalised.
The recent move to extend the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) agreements can be seen within this context.
Singapore opened up VTLs with Brunei and Germany back in September. From October 19th, eight more countries are to be added to the list: the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, the US, and Canada, with South Korea scheduled to be added on November 15th.
Singapore will look into similar travel arrangements with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and other neighbouring countries in the next phase.
Upon arrival, travellers will be assisted in downloading the Trace Together app. This is used to check in to public places such as restaurants and malls – if travellers come into contact with the virus they will be notified via the app.
Self-isolation on arrival can be done at the hotel. On receipt of a negative result through text or the app, travellers are free to explore.
Some of these steps are not required for Singapore citizens and permanent residents. The rules are also different for those departing Singapore to countries with the VTLs. Check out all the info for those departing Singapore here.
It is worth noting that travellers to Singapore have to comply with local rules. There are some quite stringent measures – masks, for instance, are compulsory. On arrival with Discova, travellers are given an orientation from our guides on the expected behaviour, including a demonstration of how the Trace Together app works.
Last week, in an emotive statement, the Thai Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, announced that the country would be open for fully vaccinated tourists from certain countries from November 1st.
However, in truth, this amounts to a request for the Ministry of Public Health to put this into law. The Prime Minister, in fact, stated that he hoped the broader government would ‘consider’ such a move. Therefore, treating this announcement as fact may be a touch premature. While there is likely to be more movement towards a relaxation of restrictions, such reports are not concrete yet.
As we have seen in Thailand before, things are often liable to shift at short notice as circumstances change. We certainly hope that the opening goes ahead as planned but until the official government announcement, we are advising our partners to exercise caution. The situation will need to be monitored closely over the coming weeks.
Nevertheless, the alleged news from the Prime Minister would constitute a significant boost for the tourism industry in Thailand.
With the UK removing Thailand from its red list in the past month, the door is now potentially open for a resurgence of travel to Thailand.
The announcements come as a massive boost for those in the tourist industry in Thailand, with sandbox schemes in Phuket, Koh Samui, and Krabi having seen only limited reprieve. The hope among many is for a steady increase in incoming visitors and a return to normality through 2022.
However, we must remain patient. It is worth noting, within the address last week, the Prime Minister referenced the likelihood of a spike in cases should travel resume. With Thailand’s relatively low vaccination rate, there is a risk of outbreaks as well as the possibility of new variants of the virus to contend with.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, he stated that the government will monitor the situation carefully and will respond accordingly – the government in the past has been very quick to impose province-wide lockdowns at the first signs of an outbreak.
Therefore, a lot remains to be seen over the coming weeks and months in Thailand. Yet, like the Prime Minister himself, we at Discova are cautiously optimistic that we will be bringing your customers to Thailand very soon.
If you have any questions about our operations in Thailand and Singapore, don’t hesitate to reach out to our teams to find out all the latest developments and how we are preparing. Our rigorous health and safety policies remain in place across our destinations. As ever, we’ll keep partners informed on the latest developments, including rumours of openings in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, in our monthly news updates.
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