News Round-up June 17-23

ASEAN, news, post crisis, Coronavirus


It will certainly deter any traveller to come to Cambodia. After allowing citizens from six countries to return to Cambodia in early June, the government decided to impose a mandatory deposit of $3,000 in cash or by credit card for any foreign tourist arriving in the country. In addition to presenting proof of travel insurance with medical coverage of at least $50,000, foreign travellers are now required to provide a deposit of $3,000 upon arrival in the country.

The deposit will be used to cover all costs related to the tracing of travellers. This deposit will cover the COVID-19 test and the 24-hour wait for results at a government-designated centre. This is approximately $165. If the person tested positive for coronavirus, the subsequent care and quarantine will be deducted from the deposit.

In the event that a passenger on the same flight tests positive to the test, all passengers will be quarantined and will be required to pay any medical expenses that may arise from the coronavirus pandemic. This represents an estimated cost for 14 days of $1,280. Difficult to tempt anyone to take a chance for a holiday in Cambodia!
Bali is officially planning to reopen for international tourists starting in September according to local media. Bali Governor, Wayan Koster stated that domestic tourism will resume on July 9th, 2020 and will continue into August. However it will first be only open for locals living on the island and then extended to other Indonesian nationals. After these two months, if local transmission is low, Bali will reopen its borders to foreign tourists in September. “This is just a plan, not a schedule that will definitely be implemented,” explained the Governor.   

The event was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury, and the Country Director of AFD in Laos, Matthieu Bommier, and the French Ambassador, Florence Jeanblanc-Risler. Dr Kikeo said, “AFD has been a long-standing development partner of the Lao PDR, providing a total of more than 150 million euros since 1994. The CHAMPA Project is a welcome addition to the bilateral portfolio and further reinforces AFD’s position as one of the main contributors to the socio-economic development of the Lao PDR.”

Vat Phou in Champassak, the second site in Laos to be classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2001, is located in southern Laos and is home to heritage treasures – archaeological, architectural, intangible and natural – that are still unknown to visitors.

Champassak district derives limited benefit from this cultural and natural capital, as a majority of visitors do not spend time there. Savannakhet, the most populated province in the country, is still not a popular tourist destination.

However, it has untapped potential based on a wide variety of historical attractions, including heritage treasures from the period of the Sikhottaboon Empire (from the 7th to the 10th century), which are not visible to the public today. AFD and the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism have designed the CHAMPA Project worth six million euros.

The project will be implemented by Lao authorities, including the World Heritage Site Office of Vat Phou and the Department of Information, Culture and Tourism of Savannakhet, and the Ecole Française d’Extrême Orient (EFEO).

Under this project, tourism development plans will be drawn up to create genuine tourist destinations that will encourage visitors to extend their stay and thus develop economic benefits for local populations, particularly through the creation of jobs.

The treasure of Savannakhet will be showcased in a renovated museum. In addition, the project will provide the local people with improved public spaces, and support local territorial dynamics through a call for projects from associative and private actors. AFD and the Ministry of Planning and Investment have now signed the financing agreement of US$2.64 million euros for cultural and heritage preservation and tourism promotion activities.

“France and Laos share a long history around cultural heritage in Laos. I believe that a better knowledge of Lao heritage by the Lao people contributes to the national identity,” the French Ambassador said. Matthieu Bommier, Director of AFD in Laos, said: “We believe tripartite cooperation between AFD, Lao authorities and EFEO will be very valuable to improve the knowledge and preservation of the unique culture and heritage of Champassak and Savannakhet, and to help the tourism sector recover steadily and sustainably after the current crisis.”

(Source: Vientiane Times/Asian News)



After keeping their doors closed for nearly three months, the country’s theatres, performing arts centres and live event spaces alongside cinemas will finally be allowed to reopen from July 1. Senior Minister (Security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob made the announcement at a press conference early this week, stressing that only a maximum of 250 people will be allowed to be in these spaces, subject to the size of the hall. He also advised the venue operators to adhere to the public health guidelines provided by the government to ensure the safety of the patrons. The National Gallery in Kuala Lumpur also reopened its doors on Tueday after three months closure, offering the possibility to discover two new exhibitions. However, only 30 visitors aged between 14 and 60 can be accepted at the same time. Entry to the gallery remains free.



Decrease of tourist arrivals reached almost 100% in April according to statistics released by the Singapore Tourism Board. The city state recorded only a total of 748 foreign travellers, mostly people in transit or who entered Singapore on a case to case basis. From that number, 500 overnighted in the country with Indonesians being the largest group of travellers at 207 followed by Thailand at 153 and Malaysia with 96 travellers. For the first four months of 2020, total arrivals are down by 57.7% at 2.7 million. However, the average length of stay increased by 1113.3% during the first four months. It reached 39.1 days as many tourists which were still in Singapore when the lockdown started could not go back and are automatically counted as traveller.



The ban on commercial international flights might not be lifted on July 1 as originally planned and, if and when the ban is scrapped, only certain categories of travellers will be allowed to go outside or come from abroad, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT). Rumours are multiplying about a reopening of international air transport only by September.  CAAT director-general Chula Sukmanop made the statement after meeting representatives from 10 commercial airlines operating both domestic and international flights, five private jet firms and four airport operators last week. No official announcement has been made but it is also certain that the dire situation at Thai Airways International plays a role in the government decision’s not to allow foreign carriers to come back in a move to protect the national carrier.

A dozen of airlines including Emirates, KLM, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways of Turkish Airlines have already published their timetable announcing a return of flights to Bangkok between July and August. Such a move further jeopardize a recovery of Thai tourism. The ban on international flight went into effect on April 27 at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown.



Thailand needs to reopen borders to international guests to ensure long-term infrastructure and investment, while boosting domestic consumption in the short term, says hotel firm Accor in an interview to the Bangkok Post.

Last year Thailand reached close to 40 million international visitors versus 167 million domestic trips, but foreign visitors are higher-yielding and tend to spend more per trip, said Patrick Basset, chief operating officer of Accor for Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia and the Maldives. International tourism spending represent almost twice as much as spending of domestic tourism.

Until international tourism is allowed again, Accor sees potential for domestic tourism for Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya and Phuket. While only 26% of all Accor hotels are currently opened for tourism, the company will reopen another 22 hotel properties on July 1st.