From Bali to Langkawi: The Pandemic and Tourism, Opinion News & Top Stories
Why Thailand’s tourist sandbox programs have failed
The Nation, Thailand
Almost three months ago, Thailand launched its pilot program to reopen selected destinations to foreign tourists vaccinated without quarantine.
The reopening of the trial began in Phuket on July 1, followed by three resort islands in Surat Thani on July 15.
However, tourism sandboxes have received a lukewarm response from outsiders. The emergence of the fourth wave of Covid-19 in April, which pushed daily cases to more than 20,000, has prompted many countries to raise their alert levels for travel to Thailand.
Increasing alert levels is probably a major factor in the failure of sandbox programs, as tourists tend to avoid countries at high risk of infection.
In addition, for a province to join the sandbox program, at least 70% of its population must have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to obtain herd immunity. However, the government’s delay in distributing vaccines to tourist provinces delayed their plans to reopen, which also made existing programs less attractive as fewer tourist destinations were available.
Currently, each province under the sandbox program has its own standard operating procedure (SOP) that foreign tourists must follow before entering and during their stay in the destination.
However, the details of these SOPs differ from province to province, which can confuse tourists as to what regulations they should follow and where.
Many parties propose that all areas covered by sandbox programs use the same SOPs for consistency and simplicity, which would help attract more foreign tourists.
Everyone misses Bali
Jakarta Post, Indonesia
When October arrives, we will remember the heinous attacks on Bali in 2002 and 2005 and their devastating effects on the island’s tourism – the backbone of its economy.
It took years for Bali to get back on its feet, during which time the government launched a policy of collective days off to speed up the recovery of the country’s most popular tourist destination.
The Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be more damaging for Bali, which is why the government’s plan to reopen the island to foreign tourists has been greeted with enthusiasm.
In fact, pressure had grown on the government to implement the policy much sooner, turning a blind eye to the upsurge in infection cases that resulted in strict restrictions on mobility there.
The pandemic has hit Bali hard. Statistics show the province’s economy contracted 9.31 percent year-on-year, mostly due to its crippled tourism.
Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno said reopening Bali could follow the model used by the islands of Phuket and Samui in Thailand, which Vietnam is also considering adopting on its idyllic island of Phu Quoc.
The two Thai tourist resorts are limited only to vaccinated foreign tourists from low-risk countries, with no need to quarantine.
Mr. Sandiaga also suggested regional collaboration to form a tourism triangle between Bali, Phuket and Langkawi in Malaysia. Langkawi has so far only been open to domestic tourists.
Indonesia is also considering accepting travelers from South Korea, Japan, Singapore and New Zealand when tourist destinations like Bali resume operations.
Although no specific date for Bali to reopen has been set, the government must ensure that everyone involved in tourism has been vaccinated.
The double-dose vaccination rate on the island has exceeded 70 percent, but increasing that figure would better protect both the local population and their guests.
The government’s choice of a gradual reopening instead of a complete reopening of Bali deserves to be saluted. Even though we aspire to Bali, we have to be careful because we have yet to win this Covid-19 war.
Parents should be careful when reopening tourist sites
Sin Chew Daily, Malaysia
When performing the travel bubble program, it is imperative that the SOPs are strictly adhered to at the locations provided.
Authorities should stick to the golden rule that all necessary preparations are in place before reopening, while members of the public should be extra careful throughout the journey to ensure a smooth and safe vacation. security.
In addition to adhering to SOPs, parents should also avoid taking their unvaccinated children with them.
Langkawi became the first destination for the government’s “travel bubble” program on September 16, and the response has been exceptionally good. Some 10,105 tourists flocked to the island in the first four days.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri said the government has decided to open more tourist sites following Langkawi’s success, with Genting Highlands, Melaka and Tioman the next destinations ready to welcome visitors. .
It is understandable that many Malaysians are excessively turned on by this program, having been locked up for months.
However, the pandemic is not yet fully under control and minors under the age of 18, who represent 29.7% of the country’s population, have just started to be vaccinated. What if among the more than 10,000 tourists who flood the island of Langkawi were unvaccinated young people who could be infected?
If the rule “only fully vaccinated people are allowed to travel” is strictly enforced by authorities and travel operators, things may not escalate due to the travel bubble. Otherwise, there is always this worry about a possible explosion of new cases after the holiday season.
Langkawi and Tioman are islands accessible only by flights or ferries, while there is only one road leading to Genting Highlands. Thus, inspecting a visitor’s immunization status is relatively easy. Other destinations such as Melaka and the east coast could be reached in several ways, making it extremely difficult to inspect all visitors to these destinations. Vaccination is of the utmost importance in our anti-virus strategy.
The figures illustrate that nearly ten million unvaccinated minors constitute a very vulnerable group. Although the ratio of this group of people developing serious illnesses or even death is relatively low, they account for 19.4% of all infections in the country.
Parents must be perpetually aware of the well-being of their children and they must stay away from the travel bubble.
- The View From Asia is a compilation of articles from media partner of the Straits Times Asia News Network, a collection of 23 news media titles.