South Asian countries begin process of reopening to tourists

Most South Asian countries are gearing up for reopening after months of lockdown, leaving behind the Zero-Covid policy, even as the new Delta variant surged across the region in July and reached its peak by August in these countries.

Singapore welcomed flights filled with European tourists this month, its first in roughly 1 1/2 years.
Singapore welcomed flights filled with European tourists this month, its first in roughly 1 1/2 years. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@chuckh_


Singapore welcomed flights filled with European tourists this month, its first in roughly one-and-a-half years.

Under Vaccinated Travel Lanes, vaccinated travelers from Germany and Brunei can visit Singapore without quarantining if they pass four COVID-19 tests.


Langkawi reopened this month as part of Malaysia's Tourism Recovery Plan. However, the archipelago located 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from Malaysia's northwestern coast is open only to vaccinated domestic tourists.

The government indicated it expects to welcome domestic visitors to other popular tourist destinations such as Tioman Island, Johor, Melaka and the state of Sabah on the island of Borneo. 


Southeast Asia's largest and most populous country is taking steps to welcome visitors soon.

The islands of Bali, Bintan and Batam are part of a reopening pilot project, thanks to their vaccination rates, safety protocols, health infrastructure and international demand, a representative from Indonesia's Ministry of Tourism said.


Nepal has restarted visas on arrival for inoculated tourists as South Asian nations attempt to revive tourism businesses devastated after 18 months of the pandemic.

Nepal reopened to tourists and scrapped quarantine requirements for vaccinated foreigners on Thursday and its neighbours are expected to quickly follow as they seek to bolster linchpin industries in their economies.


Bangladesh has eased restrictions on cross-border travel to and from India today as Covid-19 scenario in the country and the region has improved.

The decision was taken based on recommendations from an inter-ministerial consultation held on September 14 at the foreign ministry.

The restrictions were in place since April 26 on cross-border movement of travelers through land ports.

People traveling to Bangladesh from India through land ports are no longer required to obtain No Objection Certificates (NOC) from Bangladesh missions abroad.

The regular immigration hours and days resumed at the currently operational six land ports — Benapole, Akhaura, Sonamasjid, Hili, Darshana and Burimari — for cross-border movement, according to a foreign ministry statement today.

In addition, five more land ports/land customs stations – Sheola, Tamabil, Bhomra, Birol and Banglabandha – will be opened from September 19.


Under the plan, vaccinated travellers who test negative for Covid-19 before and after arriving can enter Phuket without quarantining. 

The island welcomed 26,400 vaccinated visitors and generated tourism revenue of THB 1.63 billion Thai (USD 48.5 million) in July and August, according to a report by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Now vaccinated travelers can visit other parts of Thailand, including the island of Koh Samui and parts of the provinces of Krabi and Phang-Nga.

On Monday, Thai authorities announced plans to open a large swath of the country in the next three months. Authorities approved a four-phase reopening timeline that prioritizes popular tourist destinations, including Bangkok. 


The Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc (pronounced "foo kwok") is scheduled to reopen to vaccinated international visitors in October, according to VGP News, the Vietnamese government's online newspaper.

The island, Vietnam's largest, is lesser known than other Southeast Asian islands, which is one reason travelers are attracted to it. Home to white-sand beaches and night markets, Phu Quoc has a UNESCO recognized biosphere reserve and one of the world's longest cable cars, which links to the nearby island of Hon Thom (Pineapple Island).

However, a reopening date has yet to be announced, the representative said.