The Disappearance of the Italian Market in ASEAN

ASEAN, Italy, coronavirus, visa

Rome coliseum on March 7 (Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/ AFP)

Italy has been a constant and growing market to ASEAN destinations. But the coronavirus crisis and the temporary ban of Italian travellers to most Asian countries will have a devastating effect. 

Italy has been a consistent and faithful market for Southeast Asia for a long time. Last year, it is estimated that there are 670,000 total Italian travellers visiting ASEAN member countries. The biggest number of Italian travellers in 2019 were recorded as followed: Thailand (272,000 arrivals), Singapore (103,000), Indonesia (97,000),Vietnam (71,000) and Malaysia (55,000).

For years, Italian travellers have been favouring destinations in Southeast Asia which include Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia or Vietnam. The rise in confirmed coronavirus cases in Italy followed by the country’s quarantine threw a negative light on that market for many governments.

It is true that Italy is now the most affected country by the virus after China at 12,462 cases as of Wednesday 11 March, including 827 deceased. Safety measures have been conducted over the last two weeks to temporarily pause flights between Southeast Asia and the country. Both Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways International – the only two Southeast Asian carriers flying direct flights to Italy –  already suspended their flights to both Milan and Rome. Gulf carriers such as Emirates, Etihad or Qatar Airways, which are popular alternatives – also suspended all their flights.

Many local authorities have also banned reestablished visas or asked Italian travellers to be quarantined on arrival to their country. Vietnam and Indonesia were among the first to totally ban Italians or passengers coming from Italy to enter their country.

Here is the list of restrictions from each ASEAN country for Italian citizens or passengers coming from Italy. Only Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines have not issue restrictions for visiting Italians or passengers arriving from Italy.

Brunei does not allow passengers who have been in Italy in the past 14 days to transit or enter the country.

Indonesia does not allow passengers and airline crew who have been in Italy in the past 14 days. Visa Exemptions and Visa on Arrival facilities are no longer available to passengers who have been in Italy in the past 14 days.

Malaysia does not allow passengers who have been in Italy in the past 14 days.

Singapore does not allow passengers who have been in Italy in the past 14 days, including in transit.

In Thailand, passengers arriving from Italy must have a Health Certificate to prove they are free from Coronavirus (COVID-19). They must be under doctor’s observation for 14 days before issuing date. The Health Certificate must be valid for no more than 2 days prior to departure. Crew members that are not based in Thailand arriving from Italy are quarantined at the hotel until their next departure schedule. The Kingdom will temporarily suspend the free visa on arrival for Italian citizens.

Vietnam quarantine passengers who have been or transited in Italy in the past 14 days prior to arrivals. The country also revoked the free visa on arrival option.