Travel and Tourism Update: March 30, 2020

Travel and Tourism Update | March 30, 2020
Authors: Shay Wester, Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Steven Gunawan, Julianne Alberto
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

May 20-22: 2020 Philippines Business MissionUS-ABC will organize our 2020 Business Mission to the Philippines. Please save the dates. Registration details to be announced.

March 31-April 4 ASEAN Tourism Committee Meetings (ATCM) Meetings postponed. Tentatively set sometime mid-June. We shall keep members updated.

July 5-7: ASEAN National Tourism Organizations Meetings. Please note the tentative dates. This event will be in Banyuwangi, Indonesia.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

ASEAN nations restrict travel to curb spread of COVID-19

As ASEAN Member States are confronted with rising numbers of those infected with COVID-19, the governments implement travel bans or restrictions and heightened border security to slow down the spread of the disease. Below is a rundown of these protocols implemented by the nations:

Brunei – Its citizens and foreign residents are barred from leaving the country. There are exemptions for individuals with special circumstances such as those who need to receive urgent medical care, attend court hearings, resume their studies abroad, but they will need to acquire approval from the Prime Minister's office. No foreign national will be allowed entry whether by land, sea or air including foreign nationals transiting in Brunei. The government will require them to secure a permit from the Department of Immigration and National Registration. However, transport companies delivering food and medical supplies need not secure a permit. Mass gatherings, including weddings and sporting events are cancelled. All dining establishments are forbidden from serving food and are only allowed to provide take-away. This website provides up to date news on COVID-19 related developments in Brunei.

Cambodia – Its Ministry of Health announced a temporary ban on entry of foreigners from Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and the United States for 30 days starting March 17. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport also decided to suspend the entry of travelers through waterways, including sea ways and ports. After citizens flocked back into Cambodia when Thailand announced its lockdown, the Cambodian government is now considering locking down villages where more than two migrant workers from Thailand are found to have contracted COVID-19.

Indonesia – The country suspended its visa exemption policy for all countries for a month. It will also impose a travel ban on entry of those who traveled to Iran, Italy, the Vatican, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom in the last 14 days. Foreign visitors wishing to enter Indonesia must obtain a visa and present a health certificate. The government has called for large-scale social restrictions with civil emergency policies and for businesses to postpone events that involve mass gatherings during the emergency period. Moreover, there has been a discussion on a possibility of partial lockdown in Jakarta and the surrounding areas to limit the movement of people between the regions. President Joko Widodo demurred from a nationwide lockdown although groups have called for the government’s clarification on its policy and provinces have imposed closures.

Laos – The country imposed a lockdown and all international checkpoints will be closed to prevent passengers from exiting and entering Laos. Movement of goods is permitted. The measure will be effective from March 30 to April 19. The government earlier suspended the issuance of visas for foreign tourists for 30 days. Events of more than 10 people are prohibited. The latest press release can be found here (local language).

Malaysia – The country is currently under a lockdown until April 14 in a bid to stop the virus from spreading faster. Only essential services including supermarkets, banks, gas stations, and pharmacies are allowed to remain open. Malaysians returning from overseas must undergo a health check and self-quarantine for 14 days. Restrictions have also been imposed on the entry of tourists to Malaysia, but foreigners are allowed to leave. Malaysians are not allowed to travel abroad nor travel between states. For Malaysian workers going to Singapore, please see this update.

On March 26, Defense Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri stated that the second phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO) during April will involve stricter procedures.  In addition, from March 27 to April 9, Kampung Dato’ Ibrahim Majid and Bandar Baharu Dato’ Ibrahim Majid in Simpang Renggam, Kluang, Johor will be under an enhanced movement control order (EMCO) given the relatively high spread of COVID-19 cases in the region.  All business activities will be halted and the Community Welfare Department will provide basic food for 14 days.

Myanmar –  There is a ban on all international commercial passenger flights from March 30 to April 13 but this excludes relief flights, cargo flights, medical evacuation flights, and special flights specifically approved by the Department of Civil Aviation. The country earlier imposed mandatory quarantines in government facilities for all travelers, except diplomats and UN officials who are subjected to home quarantine instead. The government also temporarily suspended issuance of all visa types until April 30; however this measure excludes diplomats accredited to Myanmar, UN officials with residence in Myanmar, and crew of ships and aircraft operating to and from Myanmar. The visa exemption program for ASEAN nationals has also been temporarily suspended. All state and regional governments will cancel public events and mass gatherings until the end of April. The Office of the President asked traders and business people to work together to maintain stable food supplies and prices of basic goods during the pandemic.

PhilippinesThere is a temporary ban on entry of foreigners which started March 22, 12:00am with exceptions to accompanying foreign spouses and children, repatriating Filipinos, and foreign officials accredited to the Philippines. Hotels and similar establishments remain closed in Luzon with some exceptions. For more information on travel and hotel restrictions, please check this link. On March 25, the Philippines enacted Republic Act No. 11469, an emergency powers law to respond to the pandemic. Earlier on March 16, President Duterte placed the whole island of Luzon where Metro Manila is located under an “enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)” and declared a state of national emergency. Mass public transportation are closed. Local air travel and sea travel will be restricted from March 15 until April 14. According to a statement by the Department of Transportation, only overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), repatriating Filipinos and their foreign spouses and children will be allowed entry during the lockdown. Overseas travel will be limited to OFWs and foreign nationals. Inbound international passengers transiting in Luzon during the ECQ shall be allowed entry subject to applicable quarantine procedures. Employers are working with hotels to find accommodation as covered establishments implement flexible work arrangements.

Singapore From March 23, all short-term visa visitors (from anywhere in the world) will not be allowed entry into Singapore, or to transit through Singapore. Singapore has also ceased port calls for all cruise vessels. All citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders entering Singapore will be informed of the 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) via email and they need to provide proof of the place where they will spend the entire period. Residents and long-term pass holders coming from Hubei province will need to submit to a quarantine. The Singapore Tourism Board’s latest advisory can be found here.  

Thailand – The country declared a state of national emergency. Foreigners will be banned from entering the country under the emergency decree except shippers, diplomats, drivers, pilots and others permitted by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. The Prime Minister urged the public to stay at home and not to travel. He also warned that there will be checkpoints in place to limit travel. Citizens stranded in other countries will be allowed to return. Upon arrival, passengers will be subject to isolation, quarantine, observation, or any other measures designed to prevent and control the disease. Songkran celebrations are postponed and other large gatherings are cancelled or postponed.

Vietnam – Vietnam suspended entry for all foreign nationals. The country will not be issuing visas or allowing entry to any travelers at this time, including those who already hold visas or visa exemptions. Exemption for foreigners entering Vietnam for diplomatic, official and other extraordinary purposes including foreign guests attending or otherwise in service of important foreign affairs events, experts, corporate managers, high skilled workers). Vietnamese authorities shall grant appropriate visas (if necessary) for entrants with diplomatic, official and other extraordinary purposes as mentioned above. All travelers entering Vietnam need to submit mandatory health declarations on arrival. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ announcement can be found here. On March 29, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc agreed to suspend all inbound flights to the country in the next two weeks in an effort to better control the COVID-19 outbreak. Vietnam will also reduce domestic flights starting from March 30 until April 15, only allowing each Vietnamese carrier to operate flight routes between the capital city of Hanoi and the southern Ho Chi Minh City as well as those between these two cities and Da Nang, Phu Quoc with a frequency of one flight per day for each route. In addition, Vietnam has banned gathering of more than 20 people for at least two weeks from March 28 and shut down non-essential businesses nationwide (list of businesses varies by location). Provinces and cities have also closed tourist attractions. Public transportation in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will be cut down in capacity until April 5. Masks are required for national and foreign citizens in public and on public transport as of March 16.

Please note that this is a developing story and the regulations mentioned are subject to change.

 

ASEAN stimulus packages to support tourism industry amid COVID-19

Southeast Asian nations race to put together sound policy in order to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the strategy is to come up with stimulus packages, whether general or targeted, to help prop up the economy. The following are steps being taken to support the tourism industry, the hardest-hit sector:

Brunei – The country has a US$450 million economic stimulus package, US$250 million of which will be allotted to loan repayment deferral on principal payments for qualified transactions. This is effective from the lender’s date of approval until March 31, 2021. Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will also get rental fee discount for government buildings, corporate tax discount, and a 15% cut on water and electricity bills. The government will cover a 25% of the wages of MSME employees who earn US$1,500 and below for three months.

Cambodia - On February 25, 2020, Cambodia issued regulations to support businesses recently impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as well as from the partial withdrawal of ‘Everything but Arms’ (EBA) status by the European Union (EU). The regulations provide tax breaks and holidays for the country’s manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, and property industries. With the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the country is unlikely to meet its target of two million Chinese visitors in 2020. To combat this, hotels and guesthouses located in the Siem Reap province will be exempted from paying tax from February to May 2020. On March 30, Prime Minister stated in a press conference that the government needs a law on a state of emergency. The Cambodian government is set to approve a state of emergency draft on Friday before forwarding to the National Assembly.

Indonesia – Indonesia has previously released two stimulus packages. The first was meant to assist affected sectors such as the tourism industry, while the second and bigger package is meant to support the economy in general. The government is in the process of putting together a new state budget designed to address the pandemic. Despite the plan to provide fiscal stimulus to promote tourism, the government has finally called for the suspension of the tourism activities after previously trying to promote it. The Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy announced that the priority is now to protect health, safety and lives amid the virus outbreak. Moreover, he announced that the government plans to collaborate with hotel chains to provide rooms for medical personnel treating COVID-19 patients.

Laos – The Prime Minister issued an Order last March 29 stating, among others, that the Ministry of Planning and Investment in conjunction government, private sector and other stakeholders shall assess business impact, and explore necessary tax and tax policies, bank loans and other policies. The Labor Ministry will investigate labor and social welfare policies and will make the necessary proposal to the Government. The Bank of the Lao PDR will allow commercial banks, financial institutions to postpone repayments of both principal and interest to their clients, as well as reduce interest rates and fees.

Malaysia – Malaysia issued a stimulus package in February 2020, worth around US$4.8 billion. Financial institutions will provide relief to borrowers by restructuring or rescheduling loans, including potential payment moratoriums. The Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) will offer around US$45 million micro-credit scheme for companies in the tourism and other affected sectors at an interest rate of 4%. Tourism businesses will be given a deferment on their monthly tax installments for six (6) months from April to September 30. The government will stimulate demand for tourism through discount vouchers and tourism promotion and it will also invest in the upskilling of workers in the affected industry. The government will also spend on maintenance of infrastructure and upkeep of tourist sites. On March 25, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that Malaysia will further provide almost US$23 billion worth of relief by postponing loan repayments, restructuring credit card debts and business loans. On March 28, Malaysia announced a stimulus package worth 250 billion ringgit (US $58.28 billion), its second in a month, to help cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic. The new package includes a 25 billion ringgit (US$5.78 billion) direct fiscal injection by the government aimed at helping families and business owners weather the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Highlights of the new package for businesses include providing employers a RM600 (US$139) monthly wage subsidy for three months to help them retain staff who earn below RM4,000 (US$924) monthly; giving employers payment options in contributions to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), such as restructuring of contribution schedules or staggering outstanding payments; exemption from the mandatory Human Resources Development levy for six months; and a three-month deferment of income tax instalment payments for all SMEs, beginning April 1, 2020. Businesses and households will also enjoy free Internet from April 1 until the Movement Control Order ends, and electricity discounts of between 15 and 50 per cent for six months for those with usage below 600 kWh. However, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) and Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS) have expressed their disappointment and stated that stop-gap measures fail to address the key issue of job retention in the tourism industry, especially for SMEs.

Myanmar – The government unveiled an initial US$70 million stimulus package to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the economy especially the garment and manufacturing sectors, hotel and tourism businesses, and MSMEs owned by local businesspeople. Payment of quarterly income tax and monthly commercial tax payments for these qualifying businesses are deferred until September 30. Businesses will be exempted from paying advance income tax on exports until the end of current fiscal year.

Philippines – The recent enactment of Republic Act No. 11469 allows the President of the Philippines to reprogram, reallocate, and realign from the savings of the current budget of the Executive Department to fund measures that address the pandemic including recovery of sectors and industries severely affected. Before the enactment of the law, it was announced that a US$525 million stimulus package will be rolled out with US$271 billion allotted for tourism programs and projects. However, the P14-billion (US$274 million) funding is not an additional allocation from the national budget.

Singapore – The country earlier announced its stimulus package with targeted aid which the Council featured in our last update. Singapore unveiled a second stimulus package last March 26 which contained sector-specific aids. For the aviation and tourism sectors, there shall be an enhanced job support scheme covering 75% of monthly wages of citizens and permanent residents, capped at around US$3200. Around US$244 million will be provided to the Enhanced Aviation Support Package to: a) provide cost relief to the business; and b) to maintain a minimum level of air connectivity to allow citizens and goods into the country. Carriers and airport operators are allowed to defer payment of certain fees for one year. For the tourism sector, qualifying businesses will enjoy property tax rebate and the Training Industry Professionals in Tourism will grant support for employee training and course development. Likewise, there shall be increased grants on the support levels for qualifying costs. For land transport, around US$66.2 million will be given the Point-to-Point Support Package to aid taxis, private hire cars, and P2Ps (whose operator license fees shall be waived for another 6 months). Bus operators shall benefit from a road tax rebate and waiver of license fees and government-facility parking charges. The 50% port dues concession for passenger vessels shall be further extended until December 2020 and the earlier concessions shall be retained. The Maritime and Port Authority will provide additional rebates regional port operators and will waive public license fees for cruise businesses. Please see this infographic.

ThailandThe country is working on a third stimulus package. It has already introduced two packages, the first to inject 400 billion baht (US$12.2 billion) into the economy and the second, worth 117 billion baht (US$3.58 billion), to include cash handouts. The first stimulus package includes150 billion baht (US$4.6 billion) of soft loans at 2% interest rates, plus another 30 billion baht (US$ 918 million) of lending from the security fund at a rate of 3%. The government will offer relaxed debt repayments and lower interest rates for businesses, while the central bank will ask banks to help debtors. Businesses shall benefit from reduced taxes and utilities. A fund was set up to help workers affected by the pandemic.

Vietnam – The country is planning to rollout US$1.16 billion stimulus package to help affected businesses, including businesses in sectors such as transportation, logistic, tourism and tourism supporting industries. On March 26, the Ministry of Finance submitted a proposal (news release in Vietnamese) to the Government for approval to raise the stimulus package to nearly US$3.5 billion. The government is considering delaying tax payments of affected businesses for five months. Land use fees payments will also be reduced and delayed. The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) and Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) has requested assistance from the government for import and environmental tax exemptions for fuels, reduction of airports services, suspending additional tax charges until the end of 2020, extending payment timeline for airlines, and applying lowest leasing price for facilities.

Please note that this is a developing story and the regulations mentioned are subject to change. Members are also invited to check the Council’s March 19 Financial Services Analytical Update for financial and economic responses to COVID-19 in ASEAN.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Millennials are creating big opportunities for online travel investors in SEA

Brunei
All foreigners banned from entering Brunei from March 24
Indonesia shuts down Entikong border with Brunei, Sarawak
Entry ban: MoHA clarifies exemptions
RB revises, reduces flights amid COVID-19
‘Miri, Limbang economies to be affected by Brunei travel restrictions’
Brunei bars residents from leaving as coronavirus cases reach 50 (update)
Covid-19 affects Brunei’s tourism revenue, says ADB
COVID-19 affects local hotel industry
Move to seek government’s help as virus hits travel industry
Coronavirus takes a toll on Brunei tourism
Singapore Airlines, SilkAir cancel Brunei flights

Cambodia
TOP NEWS: Cambodian Government Imposes Temporary Entry Restrictions into the Kingdom
Cambodia’s aviation sector hard hit by Coronavirus pandemic
‘Overstay’ charges might be waived
Aviation sector calls for government aid
Cambodia bans visitors from five countries in bid to curb Covid-19
Cambodia crowned best international heritage destination
Cambodia responds to coronavirus outbreak with temple ticket deals
Cambodia optimistic of exponential tourism growth and foreign arrivals after end of COVID-19
Cambodia’s famed Angkor sees 37 percent drop in foreign tourists in first 2 months
Tourism Sector Generates Nearly US$5 Billion in 2019

Indonesia
Two Jakarta hotels housing 500 COVID-19 medical workers
Passenger ships denied entry to Larantuka Port, East Flores
Govt considers offering additional stimulus to bolster tourism sector
Air carrier industry requires government incentive amid COVID-19
Travel trade decries Indonesia’s new ban on more nationals
Tourism resilience needed amid health crisis
UPDATE 1-Indonesia announces nearly $750 mln stimulus in response to coronavirus

Laos
Laos To Enter Lockdown Starting March 30
Laos Shutters Small Checkpoints on Borders With Vietnam, Cambodia, Citing Coronavirus Spread

Malaysia
Hoteliers staring at RM1b losses
Malaysia Airlines to reinstate some international flights in April, May
Malaysia Airlines to suspend flights between KL and Seoul due to Covid-19
Covid-19 travel restrictions cost Malaysia Airlines over 2,000 flights
Covid-19: Malaysia bars travellers from Italy, Iran and South Korea
Tourism Malaysia looks at new markets to ease Covid-19 impacts
Now Iran, Italy also under Sabah's Covid-19 ban
Malaysia bans cruise ships
Coronavirus: Malaysia has 99 cases, second highest in South-east Asia after Singapore; cruise liner docks in Bali
Langkawi to enjoy six-month hotel room fees waiver — Mukhriz
MAB cuts over 600 flights, more than 180,000 cancellations
Malaysia's AirAsia X defers A330neo deliveries as virus pressures frail finances
Hoteliers lost RM66m in revenue on booking cancellations
Association hopes for soft loans for tour agents after Covid-19 hits tourism industry

Myanmar
Myanmar stops all int’l commercial flights from landing
Myanmar suspends all types of visas for foreign nationals to contain Covid-19
Domestic investments touch K1,084 bln, $233.47 mln in current fiscal year
Myanmar imposes new travel curbs over coronavirus, says UK
Coronavirus: Manipur Closes Border With Myanmar To Curb Deadly Transmission
COVID-19 expected to cut Myanmar tourism revenue by half
Nine Chinese airlines suspend their flights to Myanmar since COVID-19 outbreak
Myanmar airline leases two planes for August expansion

Philippines
Accor Group expanding network with 15 more hotels in the PHL
DOT comes to aid of 10,000 stranded foreign tourists
Foreigners banned from entering country
Philippine capital suspends international flights
Gov’t clarifies lifting of travel ban for China
Duterte bans domestic travel to and from Metro Manila
NEDA sees job losses up to 60,000 due to virus
Philippines to spend P6 billion to boost tourism amid novel coronavirus
Tourism industry ‘bleeding’ from Covid-19
DoT maps counter-virus measures 
No letup in DOT intl marketing efforts despite COVID-19 concerns
Philippines sees 300,000 drop in travellers

Singapore
COVID-19: Travellers to Singapore will receive notice of stay-home requirement before arrival
Coronavirus devastates travel industry, forcing airline crews to find other work
Coronavirus: People returning from UK and US to serve stay-home notice in dedicated facilities
Coronavirus: All travellers arriving in Singapore must submit health declaration from Friday
Singaporeans advised to defer all non-essential travel for next 30 days, as part of new Covid-19 measures
Singapore tourism may be worse hit than expected by coronavirus
Tourists, short-term visitors have to pay for treatment
COVID-19: Singapore widens travel restrictions as minister warns of need to prepare for spikes in cases
Singapore to bar visitors from Cheongdo and Daegu amid rise in coronavirus cases in South Korea
Singapore Airlines temporarily halts some flights to Indonesian cities

Thailand
Health certificates required of all visitors
Tourism operators want two-week Thai lockdown
Thai- Lao border closed in Phayao
Tourism Ministry hopes for post-virus bounce
Thailand cancels visa on arrival for 18 countries, visa exemptions for 3
'We have to be resilient': Tourism in Thailand plummets amidst the coronavirus outbreak
Worst case scenario - Thailand loses 10 million tourists this year
Tourist arrivals plummet 44.3% in February due to coronavirus
Tourism-driven Thailand softens 'compulsory' self-isolation language
THAI cancels flights due to virus

Vietnam
Cities and provinces nationwide close tourist attractions to avoid COVID-19 spread
Quang Ngai, Kien Giang close tourist attractions over COVID-19 fears
Vietnam now in third phase of COVID-19 combat: PM
Việt Nam suspends foreign entry, starting March 22
Tourism demand stimulus alliance launched
February figures display coronavirus impacts on Vietnam tourism
Vietnam no longer a destination with risk of COVID 19 community spread
Tourism sector to propel forward during and after epidemic
VFS Global launches the first online portal for Vietnam eVisa on Arrival
Formula 1 - Vietnam GP now under threat as international exclusions begin
The coronavirus outbreak could cost Vietnam $4 billion in lost tourism in just 3 months, according to the country's department of tourism
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Millennials are creating big opportunities for online travel investors in SEA TechinAsia 27th Mar 2020
Looking toward integrating all stages of the booking process, from marketing to the point of purchase, the online travel sector hopes to expand the pie further by adopting and adapting to the myriad of online payment platforms available. Regardless of where a company exists on the digital travel value chain, the one thing they will all inevitably have in common is the need for a variety of connected payment methods. This is a big part of why investors believe travel tech is poised to boom for a second time, following the prevalence of fintech in the region.

Brunei

All foreigners banned from entering Brunei from March 24 The Star Online 24th Mar 2020
Effective March 24, all foreign nationals are not allowed to enter or transit in Brunei Darussalam through land, sea and air control posts until further announcement. The measure is taken to reduce or prevent the transmission of Covid-19 pandemic in the Sultanate as well as in taking into account advice given by the Health Ministry. The matter was shared by Minister of Home Affairs Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Abu Bakar Apong at a press conference at the Al-’Afiah Hall on March 23. The minister also explained that categories of application and facilities affected by the measure include the issuing of Visa on Arrival at all control posts; application for visit, students and dependent visas. Permit letters for visit, student and dependent visa issued by the Immigration and National Registration Department as well as Brunei Darussalam Embassies and foreign offices will also be suspended. For foreign nationals issued with visit, student and dependent visas as well as with re-entry visas but still in their countries are advised to delay their visit to Brunei Darussalam. At the same time, special consideration will only give by the Immigration and National Registration Department subject to important matters.

Indonesia shuts down Entikong border with Brunei, Sarawak The Star Online 19th Mar 2020
A stop order on buses coming from Brunei and Sarawak at Entikong checkpoint in Pontianak, Indonesia has been issued. The Indonesian West Kalimantan provincial government has closed its border post at Entikong from last Monday to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the same day as the 14-day movement control order was implemented in Sarawak. Tribun Pontianak, which reported this, quoted the province’s Head of Transportation Department Manto Saidi as saying West Kalimantan Governor H Sutarmidji issued the stop order. Manto told the daily that the department’s personnel have been stationed in Entikong to assist with the implementation of this directive. Manto also said the Entikong border post now only allows returning Indonesians while shutting its door to foreign nationals. He added only foreign nationals exiting Indonesia are allowed to leave Entikong. Meanwhile, Sutarmidji was recently quoted as saying that he wanted express buses plying the Kuching–Pontianak route or from other destinations in Sarawak and Brunei to temporarily stop operations following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Entry ban: MoHA clarifies exemptions Borneo Bulletin 19th Mar 2020
With regard to the entry restriction issued by the Ministry of Health for travellers who have visited Hubei, People’s Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, and Europe including the United Kingdom in the past 14 days, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) clarified that residents of Brunei Darussalam who are exempted from the entry ban include permanent residents of Brunei Darussalam, foreign nationals holding Brunei green identity card; foreign nationals holding valid immigration pass including employment pass, student pass and dependent pass; diplomatic members working in the Sultanate and their dependents; and British Army personnel based in Brunei Darussalam along with their dependents. The travel ban has been effectively implemented since March 16 and is included in the guidelines of the Exit Country Application for citizens and permanent residents of Brunei Darussalam issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

RB revises, reduces flights amid COVID-19 Borneo Bulletin 19th Mar 2020
Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) revised and substantially reduced flights during March and April. Direct flights will operate to key cities including London, Melbourne, Brisbane, Dubai, Bangkok, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Manila, Tokyo, Surabaya,Taipei, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Sibu, Tawau and Sandakan between now and March 22 (up to 11.59pm, local time), according to a release on March 18. A new temporary flying program will operate from 12.01am on March 23 to 11.59pm on April 30, directly connecting Brunei to Singapore, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Manila. RB retains vital connectivity for services, supplies and the small numbers of guests who are entitled to travel to other destinations. Guests are encouraged to use the numerous direct flights from March 18 to 22 to get to their destinations without the need to transit through a third country. Guests will be able to travel directly or via major hubs – Singapore and Hong Kong – to their final destinations from March 23. Affected guests will be contacted by RB Customer Service Centre prioritizing those travelling in the next 72 hours.

‘Miri, Limbang economies to be affected by Brunei travel restrictions’ Borneo Post Online 17th Mar 2020
Travel restrictions imposed by the Brunei government at all of the country’s entry points starting yesterday due to Covid-19, will have a short-term impact on the economy of both Miri and Limbang, said Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail. The Modernization of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Assistant Minister however said he agreed with the move by the Brunei government to curb the spread of the coronavirus between the sultanate and Malaysia. “We have to adjust and adapt to the situation and follow the latest instruction and decision by our government through the Health Ministry and State Disaster Management Committee,” he said when contacted on March 16. The Bukit Kota assemblyman was asked on the impact on the local economy caused by the absence of shoppers from Brunei brought about by the new travel restrictions. “We have to respect the Brunei government’s decision which is taken to address the spread of Covid-19,” he added. It is understood that only those with special permission are allowed to enter Brunei via Kuala Lurah, Pandaruan and Sungai Tujoh.

Brunei bars residents from leaving as coronavirus cases reach 50 (update) The Star Online 15th Mar 2020
Brunei said on March 15 that its citizens and foreign residents in the country are barred from leaving the Southeast Asian nation due to the coronavirus outbreak. The health ministry also said it had confirmed 10 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total tally to 50. Earlier on March 15, Brunei has cancelled all official football and basketball matches in the wake of rising virus cases in the country. Amid rising concerns of the pandemic in the country, the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) has decided to suspended all matches of the Brunei Super League immediately until further notice, local daily the Borneo Bulletin reported on March 14. Similar steps have also been taken at the district level with the announcement of the suspension of the Tutong District Amateur Football Association League. Meanwhile, the Brunei Basketball Association has also suspended the remaining games of the National Basketball League until further notice, citing growing local concern on the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Brunei and in line with the Ministry of Health's advice to limit physical contact. Brunei's health ministry stated recently that mass gatherings, including weddings and sporting events are not permitted at present taking into consideration the Covid-19 situation in Brunei and advice from the World Health Organization.

Covid-19 affects Brunei’s tourism revenue, says ADB The Star Online 9th Mar 2020
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak could cause a decline in tourism revenue for Brunei Darussalam by as much as -0.086% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the best case scenario (US$11.7mil), -0.113% in the moderate case (US$15.3mil) and -0.192 per cent in the worst case (US$26.1mil).This was highlighted by ADB last Friday, indicating that Covid-19 could reduce global GDP by 0.1-0.4%, with financial losses forecast to reach between US%77bil and US$34bil.

COVID-19 affects local hotel industry Borneo Bulletin 4th Mar 2020
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has affected Brunei’s local hotel industry, resulting in a loss of revenue amounting to BND530,480.58 and about 4,174 room cancellations from December 14, 2019 to March 31, 2020. These statistics were shared by President of the Brunei Association of Hotels (BAH) Mohd Iswandi bin Maaruf, who added that the cancellations – including restaurant bookings – were made through local and online travel agents. “These also included bookings for Meetings/Incentive/Conference/Exhibitions (MICE). Figures obtained from hotel records showed an average occupancy rate of 23.1 per cent, while the hotels’ dependency on China was 19.5 per cent,” he said. The cancellations were made by clients from Australia, Belgium, Brunei, China, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The cancellation market segments are made up of 24.6 per cent for conventional travel agents (tour/groups), 19.05 per cent for online travel (B2C), 10.8 per cent for the corporate sector, 9.6 per cent for FIT/Direct Hotel Bookings, 4.7 per cent for MICE, 1.5 per cent for government, and 0.7 per cent for others. B2C refers to the process of selling products and services directly between a business and consumers who are the end-users of its products or services; and most companies that sell directly to consumers can be referred to as B2C companies. B2B, on the other hand, are business-to-business, which is a form of transaction between businesses, such as one involving a manufacturer and wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a retailer; and refers to business conducted between companies, rather than between a company and individual consumers.

Move to seek government’s help as virus hits travel industry Borneo Bulletin 27th Feb 2020
The Association of Travel Agents Brunei (ATAB) is planning to seek assistance from the Government of Brunei Darussalam, to mitigate the adverse impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the travel industry. The assistance can be a temporary suspension, or a lowering of financial payment to banks or tax breaks. ATAB members have also been urged to give full details, for a strong case in seeking government assistance. The proposal was raised during the ATAB members’ gathering and forum at The Rizqun International Hotel on February 26. One ATAB member, a local travel agent, revealed that inbound tourism has suffered a 70 per cent drop since the spread of COVID-19. Several proposals were suggested by the members, which included the broadening of marketing efforts, familiarization (FAM) trips to potential new product areas in Brunei, conducting regular roadshows and training for ATAB members.

Coronavirus takes a toll on Brunei tourism Borneo Bulletin Online 21st Feb 2020
Due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has suspended flights to the provinces of Hubei, Zhejiang and Jiangsu in the People’s Republic of China, in addition to reducing the number of flights to Hong Kong and Taipei. With local authorities issuing travel bans and suspensions of flights, especially from mainland China, the Brunei travel sector is bracing itself for the impact of the global pandemic. China is the largest source of overseas travel to the Sultanate, followed by other Far East markets in South Korea and Japan. According to Brunei’s Tourism Development Department, China is the top source market for tourist arrivals to Brunei, with a record number of 43,000 arrivals from January to July in 2019. Their absence is keenly felt by the local hoteliers and tour operators that thrived under their patronage. A hotel in Jerudong is now facing an 80 per cent drop in occupancy rates, due to cancellations of bookings from Chinese tour groups since the travel advisories were announced. A representative from an established travel agency located in Bandar Seri Begawan also told the Bulletin that business has been “very much affected” since the coronavirus outbreak. “We were supposed to have a group (from Brunei) leaving for mainland China, but all flights were cancelled,” she said. “We are now working with the airline authorities to either change flight dates or provide full refunds to our customers.”

Singapore Airlines, SilkAir cancel Brunei flights Borneo Bulletin Online 20th Feb 2020
On February 19, Singapore Airlines and SilkAir announced further temporary cancellations of flights across their network, including flights from Singapore to Brunei and vice-versa, amid weak global travel demand as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. According to the Singapore flag carrier in a statement on its website, flights for the Singapore-Brunei and Brunei-Singapore route on April 8, April 9, April 24, April 29, May 6, May 7, May 13, May 14, May 17 and May 20 this year have been cancelled, along with flights in its other routes across the world, in specific dates. Details of the affected flights can be found on their website. The airline said they will continue to monitor the situation and make further adjustments as necessary, while noting that affected customers will be notified and re-accommodated onto other flights. Those who have booked their tickets through a travel agency are advised to contact their agent for assistance.

Cambodia

TOP NEWS: Cambodian Government Imposes Temporary Entry Restrictions into the Kingdom FRESH NEWS 28th Mar 2020
Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a press release on Saturday regarding travel restrictions issued by the Royal Government of Cambodia in relation to the Covid-19. “In order to reduce and contain the transmission of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and in line with the measures taken by ASEAN countries, the Royal Government of Cambodia has decided to impose, in addition to the recent travel measures of the Ministry of Health of Cambodia, the following temporary entry restrictions into the Kingdom of Cambodia, effective from midnight of 30 March 2020”, the ministry wrote.

Cambodia’s aviation sector hard hit by Coronavirus pandemic Khmer Times 26th Mar 2020
Cambodia has recorded a staggering 40 percent decline in flights coming in or going out due to COVID-19. Of the three international airports, Siem Reap is the worst hit as international flights has all but dried off with many countries going into lock down mode. Overall, the number of international flights to and from Cambodia’s three airports in March is forecast to fall by around 40 percent compared to that in December last year since the COVID-19 outbreak.

‘Overstay’ charges might be waived Khmer Times 25th Mar 2020
Flight cancellations at Phnom Penh International Airport earlier this week. People who overstay their visas may have the daily $10 fine waived, say authorities, until the coronavirus pandemic is over. Sok Phal, Secretary of State at the Interior Ministry, has exclusively told Khmer Times that he is seeking approval from the Minster of the Interior Sar Kheng to waive overstay fines for tourists stranded in the country due to the ongoing severe disruption to flights caused by COVID-19.

Aviation sector calls for government aid Khmer Times 18th Mar 2020
The country’s main airport company, Cambodia Airports, has called for a “global and comprehensive plan” to aid the ailing aviation industry. The knock-on effect of the tumbling numbers in flight bookings into Cambodia, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has lead to  “sizeable slowdown” in revenues, according to Khek Norinda, Director of Communication and PR for Cambodia Airports, which represents three international airports, including Phnom Penh International Airport.

Cambodia bans visitors from five countries in bid to curb Covid-19 The Star Online 14th Mar 2020
Cambodia on Saturday (March 14) announced restrictions on visitors from five countries for a month in a bid to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 disease. "The Ministry of Health decided to temporarily ban foreigners from Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the United States from entering Cambodia for 30 days," Health Minister Mam Bunheng said in a statement.

Cambodia crowned best international heritage destination Khmer Times 13th Mar 2020
The Kingdom of Cambodia has been crowned the Best Destination – Heritage (International) by the Pacific Area Travel Writers Association (PATWA), according to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism. Cambodia is among the 13 destinations recognised by PATWA as the best destinations in different categories.

Cambodia responds to coronavirus outbreak with temple ticket deals The Star Online 7th Mar 2020
Visitors to Cambodia's world-renowned temples are being offered special deals amid dwindling tourist numbers caused by the global spread of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. To boost dipping tourist numbers prompted by the virus outbreak, Cambodia is offering travellers extra days to explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Angkor Wat complex and surrounding temples for the same price. A one-day ticket to the Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, priced at US$37, will be valid for a two-day visit now till June 25. Three-day passes, which cost US$62, will now be valid for five days in the park, while seven-day passes costing US$72, will be good for a 10-day visit. The four-month park pass incentive was intended to facilitate tourism, a key sector in the small South-East Asian nation, and "ensure the attractiveness" of the temple complex amid the Covid-19 public health crisis, Angkor Enterprise said in the statement on Tuesday.

Cambodia optimistic of exponential tourism growth and foreign arrivals after end of COVID-19 Khmer Times 4th Mar 2020
The number of foreign tourists visiting Cambodia is expected to double after the end of the deadly COVID-19, Ministry of Tourism said. Cambodia’s tourism industry has been hit by the COVID-19 outbreak since late last year and the country has introduced measures and work plan to restore the sector, especially in Siem Reap province, a major tourism destination. “After COVID-19 ends within the next four or five months, the number of foreign visitors to Cambodia would increase twofold or threefold,” Tith Chantha, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism, said at a press conference.

Cambodia’s famed Angkor sees 37 percent drop in foreign tourists in first 2 months Khmer Times 3rd Mar 2020
Cambodia’s famed Angkor Archeological Park received 341,494 foreign tourists in the first two months of 2020, down 37 percent over the same period last year. The ancient park made gross revenue of 16.2 million U.S. dollars from ticket sales during the January-February period this year, also down 35 percent over the same period last year, said the state-owned Angkor Enterprise in a statement. The arrival of Chinese tourists had almost dried up with a mere two percent arrivals during the said period. The decline was due to the impact of the COVID-19. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced last week that the government decided to provide tax breaks for all hotels and guesthouses in northwestern Siem Reap province—the home of the Angkor Archeological Park—for a period of four months from February to May.

Tourism Sector Generates Nearly US$5 Billion in 2019 https://www.akp.gov.kh 27th Feb 2020
Tourism sector, one of the main economic drivers, generated last year almost US$5 billon, a year-on-year increase of 12 percent, according to a report from the Ministry of Tourism. The report, released yesterday, stated that the number of foreign tourists visiting the Kingdom in 2019 rose by 6.6 percent, to 6.6 million.

Indonesia

Two Jakarta hotels housing 500 COVID-19 medical workers Antara News 28th Mar 2020
Two hotels were providing accommodation to 500 medical professionals, including doctors and nurses, on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 in Jakarta as on Friday, under the arrangement of the provincial government. "As of today, there are 500 medical workers coming into the hotel. We ended up dividing them among two hotels because the Grand Cempaka Business Hotel could no longer accommodate them all. There are 343 medical workers in Grand Cempaka, 28 of whom are doctors, and 157 others at the Al Hijrah hotel," said chairperson of Jaktour, Novita Dewi, at a press conference in City Hall, after receiving aid from the DKI Jakarta Chambers of Commerce and Industry for the workers.

Passenger ships denied entry to Larantuka Port, East Flores Antara News 27th Mar 2020
The East Flores District administration in East Nusa Tenggara has temporarily closed Larantuka Port to passenger ships in a bid to thwart the spread of coronavirus in the eastern region of Flores Island. The decision to close the port to passenger ships was in accordance with the instruction of District Head Antonius Gege Hadjon as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus through sea transportation.

Govt considers offering additional stimulus to bolster tourism sector Antara News 27th Mar 2020
The Indonesian Government would consider offering additional stimulus for the tourism sector that has apparently borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic. Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama noted in a statement that the sector is in need of special benefits, including tax reduction for hotels and restaurants that did not lay off their employees. Meanwhile, Minister Hartarto noted that the government had prepared various schemes, including the cash transfer program (BLT), fiscal stimulus to bolster the tourism sector, and the Pre-Employment Card as a social safety net for the people most affected by the crisis.

Air carrier industry requires government incentive amid COVID-19 Antara News 26th Mar 2020
Indonesia's air carrier industry is in dire need of the government's incentive after the number of passengers plummeted amid fears over the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Indonesian National Air Carriers Association (Inaca) stated. Inaca chairman Denon Prawiratmadja noted in a statement here on Thursday that the number of passengers had plunged sharply since March. Prawiratmadja remarked that all airlines had reduced their flight routes and frequency by at least 50 percent.

Travel trade decries Indonesia’s new ban on more nationals Travel Trade Asia 9th Mar 2020
Following its travel ban on China, Indonesia has now expanded its ban to travellers from Italy, South Korea and Iran – regions hardest-hit by Covid-19 – as it seeks to curb the spread of the deadly disease. The new travel restrictions, which started yesterday (March 8), will leave Indonesian trade players to fall into even deeper limbo after the loss of the Chinese sector – their second-biggest source market. The banned regions are Tehran, Qom, and Gilan in Iran; Lombardi, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Marche and Piedmont in Italy; and Daegu and North Gyeongsang in South Korea. Travellers who have been in those regions in the last 14 days would not be allowed to set foot in Indonesia, according to Retno Marsudi, minister of foreign affairs, who announced the policy on March 5. She explained that this was in response to WHO’s latest report on the spike in reported Covid-19 cases in the three countries.

Tourism resilience needed amid health crisis The Jakarta Post 2nd Mar 2020
As the third-largest travel and tourism market in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has been severely been hit by the coronavirus outbreak. The tourism sector in Indonesia could suffer losses of almost $500 million per month. Tourism in Indonesia has not been prepared with the necessary tools and awareness on building industry resilience. There are at least three problems, pertaining respectively to dependability, budget distribution and guideline availability.  First, tourism still depends heavily on central government intervention, incentives and initiatives. As a result, local governments, the hospitality industry and tourism communities are vulnerable in a time of crisis due to a lack of initiative and progressive steps to face any global health crisis.  Second, the government body that supports tourism resilience by providing training in risk, crisis and disaster mitigation, such as the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has its budget cut every year. Third, tourism stakeholders also need guidelines and crisis management models as a reference point and to stimulate ideas.

UPDATE 1-Indonesia announces nearly $750 mln stimulus in response to coronavirus Reuters 25th Feb 2020
Indonesia has prepared a stimulus package worth 10.3 trillion rupiah ($742.6 million) to protect its economy from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China. Growth in Indonesia’s economy had already slowed to 5.02% in 2019. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati warned the virus outbreak in China, Indonesia’s top trade partner and a major source of investment and tourism, could further weaken growth to 4.7% in 2020, below the government’s target of 5.3%. The stimulus package that Indrawati laid out includes a 30% increase in subsidies for basic needs for 15.2 million poor households for six months to support consumption. That measure that would cost the government 4.6 trillion rupiah. A state property financing programme would be expanded by 1.5 trillion rupiah and expected to cover financing for 175,000 homes. Airlines and travel agents will be given 443.4 billion rupiah to provide 30% discounts on air fares for some seats for three months. Another 298.5 billion rupiah will be used as an incentive to bring in foreign tourists to visit one of Indonesia’s 10 most popular destinations.

Laos

Laos To Enter Lockdown Starting March 30 Laotian Times 29th Mar 2020
Government Spokesperson and Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Chalern Yapaoher headed a press conference just moments ago, in which he outlined the details of the Prime Minister’s Order regarding the country’s new and upgraded COVID-19 regulations.

Laos Shutters Small Checkpoints on Borders With Vietnam, Cambodia, Citing Coronavirus Spread Radio Free Asia 16th Mar 2020
Laos is shuttering small checkpoints on its borders with Vietnam and Cambodia as part of a bid to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus into the country, where authorities have yet to announce a positive case of the disease caused by the virus (COVID-19). 10 of the northeastern province’s 14 checkpoints along its border with Vietnam will close down, citing a lack of resources to screen entrants for symptoms of infection. Only four ‘international’ border checkpoints remain open. In southern Laos’ Attapeu province, authorities ordered the closure of eight smaller checkpoints that border Vietnam and Cambodia, which have reported at least 60 and 13 cases, respectively.

Malaysia

Hoteliers staring at RM1b losses The Malaysian Reserve 30th Mar 2020
The Movement Control Order (MCO) is expected to cost hotel industry players up to RM1 billion in lost revenues as borders remain shut and accommodations are shuttered as the authorities seek to end the spread of the coronavirus. Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) CEO Yap Lip Seng said the association estimated the sector will incur RM560 million losses in revenue during the first 14 days of the MCO. MAH said presently about 9% of the workers in the hotel industry are already taking a pay-cut.

Malaysia Airlines to reinstate some international flights in April, May NST Online 30th Mar 2020
Malaysia Airlines is reinstating some of its international flights from April to May for those who were not able to return to their loved ones due to travel restrictions in many parts of the world. The national carrier’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Captain Izham Ismail said many customers from Malaysians to foreigners had reached out to their global offices requesting for flights mostly between Kuala Lumpur and Australia, KL - New Zealand as well KL - London.

Malaysia Airlines to suspend flights between KL and Seoul due to Covid-19 The Edge Markets 12th Mar 2020
Malaysia Airlines will temporarily suspend flights between Kuala Lumpur and Seoul until March 31 due to the Malaysian government’s decision to impose travel restrictions on Iranian, Italian and South Korean nationals effective March 13 amid the global Covid-19 outbreak. In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said Malaysians returning from Iran, Italy and South Korea will be subjected to a compulsory 14-day quarantine.  "Due to the restrictions, Malaysia Airlines will be temporarily suspending its 12x weekly service between Kuala Lumpur and Seoul, until March 31, 2020. Malaysia Airlines will operate its last flights on March 12, 2020 via MH66 from Kuala Lumpur to Incheon (International Airport) and the return leg MH67 on March 13, 2020 from Incheon (International Airport) to Kuala Lumpur,” Malaysia Airlines said. Incheon is a South Korean city bordering the country’s capital Seoul. Malaysia Airlines said passengers affected by the cancellation are entitled to request for an alternative travel date until Dec 13, 2020. The airline said passengers can also "request for a full refund, or opt to be rerouted to other destinations within Greater China (Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong or Xiamen) or Japan region (Narita and Osaka)".

Covid-19 travel restrictions cost Malaysia Airlines over 2,000 flights Free Malaysia Today 12th Mar 2020
The Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) says the Covid-19 outbreak, which was recently classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, has forced national carrier Malaysia Airlines to cancel more than 2,000 flights up to April due to travel restrictions by destination countries. In a statement, MAG which operates Malaysia Airlines Bhd also confirmed reports that it had asked employees to go on unpaid leave in the wake of the virus outbreak. It said it had given its staff the option of voluntarily taking five days of unpaid leave per month for at least three months, resulting in 15 days of leave, or between one and three months beginning April. The Edge earlier reported that the airline had asked its employees to take voluntary unpaid leave as it tries to cope with the financial impact of the pandemic. The voluntary leave program is also offered to other employees in MAG, including at MAB Kargo, MAB Engineering, Firefly, and MASwings.

Covid-19: Malaysia bars travellers from Italy, Iran and South Korea NST Online 11th Mar 2020
Foreign nationals from Iran, Italy and South Korea are barred from entering Malaysia effective March 13 to stem the flow of Covid-19 outbreak. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the directive was issued by the Cabinet at its weekly meeting on Wednesday. The ban applies to those who came directly from the countries including other foreign nationals. "We are taking this step to respond to the current situation with 129 positive cases of Covid-19 in the country,” he said after visiting the Higher Education Leadership Academy (Akept) on March 11. Malaysians who return from these countries would also be quarantined for 14 days, he said. Dr Adham said the current ban on travellers from Hubei, Zhejiang and Jiangsu in China and Hokkaido in Japan was still being enforced. He advised Malaysians who are currently in the affected countries to adhere to quarantine process there. Currently, he said Malaysians were also advised to postpone their visits the affected countries unless they are urgent matters. "For Malaysians who are stranded in China, further action will be taken based on recommendations by the Foreign Ministry," he said. Dr Adham also said a fund managed by the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) would also be set up to provide assistance to those who are unable to work due to Covid-19 infection or those placed under home surveillance. He said each individual would receive RM100 a day for the 14-day period.

Now Iran, Italy also under Sabah's Covid-19 ban Free Malaysia Today 10th Mar 2020
The Sabah government has placed travel restrictions on Iran and Italy in view of the Covid-19 outbreak.A statement issued by Sabah secretary Safar Untong said the ban covers Iranian and Italian nationals and individuals from other nationalities who had travelled in the affected regions over the last 14 days. The prohibition covers all air, land and sea entry points, he said. Malaysians from Sabah who have travelled in the affected regions must undergo a 14-day home quarantine. Any Italian and Iranian nationals presently in Sabah are advised to depart from the state before the expiry of their visas. The state government only allows a seven-day visa extension if they are forced to overstay. Similar restrictions were previously imposed on China and South Korea. On March 5, Malaysia imposed travel restrictions on seven provinces in Italy, Japan and Iran.

Malaysia bans cruise ships The Star Online 8th Mar 2020
Malaysia has issued a blanket ban on all cruise ships coming into the country due to the increasing Covid-19 cases, putting further strain on the tourism industry. The immediate ban took effect following instructions from the Health Ministry and Transport Ministry. Penang Port Commission issued a circular to ship owners, agents, vessel owners, port authorities and terminal operators, citing the ministries which said all cruise vessels are temporarily restricted from entering any Malaysian port until further notice. It said in view of the decision by the Health Ministry, all cruise vessels are restricted from entering the limits of Penang Port with immediate effect until further notice. Port Klang Authority (PKA), which also issued a similar statement, said while it acknowledged that the cruise industry is an important component, this temporary measure was necessary. PKA general manager Capt K. Subramaniam said during this difficult period, it is vital that more medical resources are concentrated on hospitals to attend to medical emergencies and undertake preventive measures. Penang recorded an overwhelming increase in cruise passengers last year. It registered 354,507 passengers in 2018. The number went up to 449,885 passengers last year. The number of vessels arriving has also increased from 185 to 198 last year. Malaysia joins several countries which has banned cruise ships from entering their ports. They include Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, according to an aljazeera.com report last month.

Coronavirus: Malaysia has 99 cases, second highest in South-east Asia after Singapore; cruise liner docks in Bali The Straits Times 8th Mar 2020
Malaysia on Sunday (March 8) confirmed six new coronavirus cases, bringing the number of infections to 99 - the second highest number in South-east Asia after Singapore. The jump in local cases in the last week has led to the country issuing a blanket ban on all cruise ships from docking, in a bid to concentrate medical resources on hospitals. Meanwhile in Bali, more than 1,200 people onboard the MV Viking Sun cruise ship, which was turned away from two ports on Java island, were allowed to set foot on Indonesia's tourism island on Sunday after being cleared by the authorities. As many as 848 passengers including Americans and Australians, and hundreds of crew members disembarked at Benoa Port in Bali, after the port authorities examined their health, said Mr Ketut Suarjaya, head of the Bali health agency.

Langkawi to enjoy six-month hotel room fees waiver — Mukhriz The Edge Markets 5th Mar 2020
The Kedah State Government has agreed to waive hotel room fees for all hotels in Langkawi for six months, effective March 4, said Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Tun Mahathir. He said the initiative was to boost the tourism sector in the State, particularly Langkawi which has seen a drop in the number of international tourist arrivals in the wake of the COVID-19 infection. Muhkriz also said that the State Government would seek allocation provided under the 2020 Economic Stimulus Package from the Federal government. The 2020 RM20 billion Economic Stimulus Package was launched on Feb 27 to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 in the country. The package is underpinned by three strategies that address the impact of COVID-19, stimulate people-centered growth and encourage quality investment.

MAB cuts over 600 flights, more than 180,000 cancellations The Malaysian Reserve 5th Mar 2020
Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) has cut over 600 flights and received more than 180,000 cancellation requests due to the Covid-19 outbreak. According to the national carrier, travel demand has slowed down amid the virus spread, forcing the company to initiate cancellations or merging of services across its network. The carrier said among the suspended operations is Kota Kinabalu to Shanghai, which is stopped until further notice, following the Sabah state government’s travel restriction on Chinese nationals. The media also reported that MAB’s special charter service for umrah and haj, Amal, had to be adjusted following Saudi Arabia’s suspension of foreign arrivals. The Malaysian Aviation Commission has reduced Malaysia’s passenger traffic growth forecast from between 5% and 6% to between 4.6% and 5.7% this year as a direct impact of Covid-19. AirAsia is expected to bear a core net loss of RM1.1 billion following lower demand and yields in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines on significant exposures to flights to China, Hong Kong and Macau, CGS-CIMB Research said in a note last month.

Malaysia's AirAsia X defers A330neo deliveries as virus pressures frail finances Yahoo Finance 28th Feb 2020
Malaysian long-haul budget airline AirAsia X said it will defer delivery of 78 Airbus SE A330neo planes and consider other changes to reduce its fleet, as the coronavirus outbreak adds pressure on the loss-making carrier. AirAsia X said late on February 27 it might sell two A330s that could fetch up to $100 million and return five others to lessors early, adding it was already in negotiations with lessors about a targeted 30% cut in lease rates. The airline cancelled 600 flights for March, according to an investor presentation published after it reported a higher quarterly net loss. AirAsia X flagged lower forward bookings and pressure on fares in the presentation. The virus has deepened the challenges facing the airline and sister carrier AirAsia Group Bhd, whose Chief Executive Tony Fernandes and Chairman Kamarudin Meranun have both stepped aside for at least two months amid investigations into a corruption scandal. Airbus was alleged to have paid a $50 million bribe for plane orders. Flights to and from mainland China accounted for about 30% of AirAsia X's capacity before the outbreak of the virus. It has a fleet of 24 A330 planes.

Hoteliers lost RM66m in revenue on booking cancellations The Malaysian Reserve 21st Feb 2020
Up to 157,000 room booking cancellations or RM66 million losses of revenue have been recorded so far due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) said. MAH CEO Yap Lip Seng said the cancellations so far are mainly from the mainland China market, but it noted that there have been reports of cancellation from the domestic market, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Europe. “South Korea cancellations increased since the government issued a travel advisory against Malaysia,” he said in a press briefing on February 20. As of Feb 17, 2020, Kuala Lumpur (KL), Sabah and Selangor noted the highest number of room cancellations at 46,354; 32,392; and 22,639 respectively, totaling to individual losses of RM22.17 million, RM11.55 million and RM7.06 million. Yap added that despite the situation, MAH and the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) will continue to work together in building the tourism industry. “More so in times of crisis, together with the government of Malaysia,” he said.

Association hopes for soft loans for tour agents after Covid-19 hits tourism industry The Star Online 21st Feb 2020
Some 1,000 tour agents here have lost a total of RM270mil since the Covid-19 viral outbreak, says the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA). "The sector has lost millions over the past month since the Chinese New Year holiday period. An average of about 3,000 travellers used to travel abroad a day and this has dropped to almost none," said its president Datuk Albert Tan (pic) at a press conference here on February 21. Agents, he said, had so far lost about 90,000 tour bookings, averaging between RM3,000 and RM15,000. The association, he said, had provided feedback to the Finance Ministry for the economic stimulus package to be announced by the Prime Minister on Feb 27. "We are hoping that there will be some form of soft loans for tour agents who have been badly hit by the outbreak," he added. Other assistance, he said, would be for a six-month waiver on loan repayments for buses operated by inbound tour agents.

Myanmar

Myanmar stops all int’l commercial flights from landing The Myanmar Times 29th Mar 2020
Myanmar is no longer allowing the landing of all international commercial passenger flights in all Myanmar airports to prevent the importation of COVID-19 via air travel, according to a March 29 notice from the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), with reference to a directive from the Ministry of Health and Sports. The measure is effective at 11:59pm March 30 until 11:59pm April 13. However, the measures will not affect relief flights, medical evacuation flights, all-cargo flights, and special flights which received approval from the DCA.

Myanmar suspends all types of visas for foreign nationals to contain Covid-19 The Star Online 29th Mar 2020
Myanmar's Foreign Affairs Ministry announced temporary suspension of all types of visas for foreign nationals from all countries with effect from March 29 till April 30 as part of measures to control the risks of Covid-19. However, this does not affect diplomats accredited to Myanmar, United Nations officials resident in Myanmar and crew of ships and aircraft operating to and from Myanmar.

Domestic investments touch K1,084 bln, $233.47 mln in current fiscal year Global New Light Of Myanmar 15th Mar 2020
Domestic investments by Myanmar citizens, including expansion of capital by existing enterprises, reached K1,084 billion and US$233.47 million as of 6 March in the 2019-2020 financial year, according to a press statement issued by the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC). Domestic investments flowed into the real estate, manufacturing, hotels and tourism, construction, industrial estate, energy, mining, livestock and fisheries, agriculture, and other services sectors, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA). To simplify the verification of investment projects, the Myanmar Investment Law allows the region and state Investment Committees to endorse local and foreign proposals, where the initial investment does not exceed K6 billion, or $5 million.

Myanmar imposes new travel curbs over coronavirus, says UK Reuters 15th Mar 2020
Myanmar has imposed new rules banning and restricting travelers from China, South Korea and parts of Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic, the British foreign office said on Sunday, warning against all but essential travel there. “Myanmar has imposed new restrictions: travelers who have recently visited France, Italy, Iran, Spain and Germany will be placed in government quarantine facilities for 14 days on arrival,” it said in a statement. Travelers who have recently visited the United States will be put under surveillance for 14 days and those who have been to China or South Korea banned from entry, it said.

Coronavirus: Manipur Closes Border With Myanmar To Curb Deadly Transmission News Nation 10th Mar 2020
Amid coronavirusscare, the government of Manipur on Monday decided to close the international border with Myanmar which also includes gate no 1 and 2 in Moreh. “In view of possible threat of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), Government of Manipur hereby prohibits movement of people across the international border and accordingly orders closures of Gate No. 1 and Gate No. 2, Moreh and other crossing points along Manipur sector of Indo-Myanmar border until further orders”, the government order states.

COVID-19 expected to cut Myanmar tourism revenue by half The Myanmar Times 27th Feb 2020
U Kyi Thein, general sectary of the Myanmar Tourism Federation, said the association has conducted a survey on the impact of the coronavirus. He said the results of the Initial Impact Assessment of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Myanmar Tourism report will be presented to the government for further action, and that revenue associated with the tourism sector could reduce by 40-50 percent or more.

Nine Chinese airlines suspend their flights to Myanmar since COVID-19 outbreak Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 25th Feb 2020
Only six out of 15 Chinese airlines are now flying to Myanmar since the outbreak of COVID-19 virus in China, according to Department for Civil Aviation (DCA). The DCA also instructed Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) and Myanmar Airways International (MAI) to suspend their chartered services to China to prevent the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Myanmar airline leases two planes for August expansion The Myanmar Times 21st Feb 2020
Myanmar Airways International (MAI) has leased two more Embraer E190 aircraft from a Chinese company to expand its flights in August. The airline signed the lease agreement with China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co Ltd at the Singapore Airshow last week. As the number of airlines operating in the country decreased in the past three years, more planes and flights are needed, according to the Sydney-based CAPA-Centre for Aviation, a market intelligence company for the aviation and travel industry.

Philippines

Accor Group expanding network with 15 more hotels in the PHL BusinessMirror 21st Feb 2020
WORLDWIDE hospitality group Accor will be expanding its network in the Philippines, bringing it to 23 hotels by 2025.

DOT comes to aid of 10,000 stranded foreign tourists BusinessMirror 24th Mar 2020
OVER 10,000 foreign tourists have so far been assisted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) in being transferred from their holiday destinations in the provinces to urban cities where they could later take their homeward bound flights. DOT Undersecretary for Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation Arturo P. Boncato Jr. told the BusinessMirror in a Viber message, “Since the 72-hour rule for tourists to leave the country was lifted, we have been coordinating with airlines to facilitate the movement of tourists to Manila and Clark via sweeper flights.” He added, military planes will also be used for the same purpose. He noted a C130 plane had already transported some tourists out of Cebu “before the lifting of the 72-hour rule.”

Foreigners banned from entering country Business World 23rd Mar 2020
The government is temporarily banning the entry of foreigners to the country to help contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In an advisory on Friday, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said that starting on March 22, only overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), repatriating Filipinos and their foreign spouses and children will be allowed entry to the Philippines during the lockdown. Foreign government and international organization officials accredited to the Philippines are also exempted from the ban. The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is also implementing restrictions on the entry of foreign nationals. The BI said in a statement on Friday that it is following the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) circular suspending visa issuance and visa-free privileges for foreign nationals.

Philippine capital suspends international flights Business World 17th Mar 2020
Airports on the main Philippine island of Luzon will close their doors to inbound and outbound international flights starting March 20 as part of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s lockdown order to contain a novel coronavirus outbreak, the Transportation department said on Tuesday. Travelers including overseas Filipino workers planning to leave or enter the Philippines through Luzon must do so within the next 72 hours from midnight of March 17, Transportation Undersecretary Raul del Rosario told a news briefing.

Gov’t clarifies lifting of travel ban for China Business World 17th Mar 2020
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday clarified the lifting of the travel ban for mainland China, saying only returning overseas Filipino workers (OFW), holders of permanent resident visas and government officials were covered. Students, OFWs dependents, tourists and first-time workers were still barred from going there, the agency said in a statement. A total travel ban to Hubei Province, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, remained, it said.

Duterte bans domestic travel to and from Metro Manila Business World 17th Mar 2020
President Rodrigo R. Duterte yesterday ordered a one-month halt to land, domestic air and sea travels to and from Metro Manila as part of government efforts to contain a novel coronavirus outbreak that has infected at least 52 people in the Philippines. Mr. Duterte also suspended work in the Executive branch for a month from March 15, and extended class suspensions at all levels until April 12. Companies should allow work-from-home and other flexible arrangements to prevent the spread of the virus. Government agencies can form “skeletal workforces” to ensure unimpeded delivery of services. Manufacturing, retail and service establishments should continue operating.

NEDA sees job losses up to 60,000 due to virus Business World 10th Mar 2020
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) estimated up to 60,000 jobs in the tourism and manufacturing sectors may be lost if the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak persists until June. NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon told the Senate economic affairs committee hearing on the COVID-19 impact on the economy that the COVID-19 outbreak may cut gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 0.3-1% if it continues until end-2020. The NEDA said the tourism industry is facing a possible 1.42-million reduction in foreign tourist arrivals this year, as two of its biggest sources of tourists — China and South Korea — try to contain the spread of the virus.

Philippines to spend P6 billion to boost tourism amid novel coronavirus Rappler 10th Mar 2020
The Department of Tourism (DOT) will be spending some P6 billion to boost thetourism industry, which is heavily hit by the global spread of the novel coronavirus. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said the DOT's tourism resiliency program will focus on promoting domestic destinations and on assuring the public that it is safe to travel in the Philippines. The money for the program will come from a pooled fund from various agencies. The Philippines stands to lose at least P42.9 billion in tourism revenues due to the threat of the novel coronavirus.

Tourism industry ‘bleeding’ from Covid-19 BusinessMirror 5th Mar 2020
“WE’RE bleeding.” Thus was the lament of Tourism Congress of the Philippines President Jose C. Clemente III in a press briefing Wednesday, as he described the impact of the ongoing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak on the country’s tourism industry. Many tourism stakeholders, such as hotels and resorts, have already asked some of their staff to take their forced leaves while guests were still minimal, due to the travel bans on China, Hong Kong and Macau. Unfortunately, he noted, “the markets we thought would hold out [like Europe and North America] are also canceling their visits [to the Philippines].” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, for her part, said the raw data they received from the Bureau of Immigration showed a 41.4-percent drop in foreign arrivals in February, compared to February 2019. January 2020 still posted an 9.8-percent increase in foreign arrivals, however.

DoT maps counter-virus measures Business World 4th Mar 2020
THE Department of Tourism (DoT) is allocating P6 billion to help the domestic tourism industry weather the fallout from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. This as international tourist arrivals to the country slumped by 42% in February, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Wednesday. At a press conference, she said the government is rolling out several initiatives to promote domestic tourism to make up for the loss of foreign travelers. “To strengthen this public-private partnership initiative, we have the tourism resiliency program. The DoT will be allocating P6 billion that will span international and domestic promotions, infrastructure, and regional tourism development,” Ms. Romulo-Puyat said.

Philippines eyes Indonesian tourists in efforts to boost foreign visits The Jakarta Post 24th Feb 2020
The Philippines has set its sights on Indonesian travelers as part of the country’s efforts to increase its foreign tourist arrivals this year. Despite the two countries’ geographical proximity, which can be covered by a four-hour flight, the number of Indonesian tourists visiting the Philippines remains relatively low compared to that of other countries such as China, South Korea, the United States and other ASEAN countries, according to the Philippines’ Department of Tourism. Indonesia ranked 14th in the Philippines’ foreign tourist visits, with 70,819 Indonesians visiting the Southeast Asian neighbor in 2019.

Philippines sees 300,000 drop in travellers The Star Online 20th Feb 2020
The Philippines recorded a drop of more than 300,000 international and local passengers following the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak that prompted countries to impose travel restrictions. From Jan 25 to Feb 17, some 1,352,692 foreigners flew into the country, down by 272,006 from the 1,624,698 international travellers recorded in the same period last year, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Eddie Monreal said on Wednesday. Domestic travellers, on the other hand, reached 1,406,876, down by 49,829 from 1,456,705 in the same period last year, he said in a press briefing in Malacañang. The number of flights also saw a 22-per cent drop.

Singapore

COVID-19: Travellers to Singapore will receive notice of stay-home requirement before arrival CNA 26th Mar 2020
Travelers arriving in Singapore from 9am on Friday (Mar 27) will be notified of their stay-home requirement via email before they arrive in the country, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said. The move will enable travelers to be notified of the requirements in advance, instead of only during immigration clearance in Singapore. They will also be warned in advance of the penalties they face should they fail to comply with the 14-day stay-home notice.

Coronavirus devastates travel industry, forcing airline crews to find other work South China Morning Post 26th Mar 2020
Coronavirus outbreak has forced airlines to ground flights, bringing the industry to a virtual standstill. Photo: HandoutAirline workers such as cabin crew are anxious over their financial future as the aviation industry comes to a virtual standstill worldwide due to the Covid-19 outbreak, with many borders closed and nations in lockdown. Many of these workers in Singapore are scrambling to supplement their lost income, as they are stood down, or working very few shifts. Singapore Airlines (SIA), for example, grounded almost all its aircraft earlier this week.

Coronavirus: People returning from UK and US to serve stay-home notice in dedicated facilities The Straits Times 24th Mar 2020
Those returning from UK and the US from 11.59pm on Wednesday (March 25) will serve their 14-day stay-home notice in dedicated facilities instead of in their own homes. The Ministry of Health is working with hotel operators to house returnees and will also arrange for them to be sent directly from the airport to the hotels. Returnees will have their own room and toilet, and have all their meals provided, so that they may avoid physical contact with other individuals.

Coronavirus: All travellers arriving in Singapore must submit health declaration from Friday The Straits Times 23rd Mar 2020
All travellers arriving in Singapore - including Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders - must submit an online health declaration before proceeding with immigration clearance, from Friday 9am (March 27). The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said on Monday that all travellers will have to do so via the SG Arrival Card electronic service.

Singaporeans advised to defer all non-essential travel for next 30 days, as part of new Covid-19 measures The Straits Times 15th Mar 2020
Singaporeans should defer all non-essential travel, and border restrictions have been tightened to include all ASEAN states, as the Republic moves to reduce the growing risk of Covid-19 importation. With immediate effect, Singaporeans are advised to defer all non-essential travel abroad to reduce their risks of contracting the virus during this pandemic, the Ministry of Health said on March 15. This advisory will apply for 30 days and is subject to further review.

Singapore tourism may be worse hit than expected by coronavirus The Business Times 11th Mar 2020
Singapore is bracing for a harder hit to tourism than initially expected from the novel coronavirus as the outbreak spreads to more than 100 countries. Just last month, Singapore's tourism chief forecast that tourist arrivals and spending could drop by 25 per cent to 30 per cent this year because of the outbreak, making it worse than the 2003 Sars pandemic. The city-state is losing about 18,000 to 20,000 tourists a day and that could plummet further if the situation persists, Keith Tan, chief executive officer of Singapore Tourism Board, said in mid-February.

Tourists, short-term visitors have to pay for treatment The Straits Times 10th Mar 2020
Tourists and other short-term visit pass holders in Singapore have had to pay for Covid-19 treatment since last Saturday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday. It cited the rising numbers of infections globally and an expected rise in confirmed cases, saying Singapore will "need to prioritise resources at our public hospitals". Singapore will still waive testing fees for short-term visit pass holders, but they have to pay for treatment if warded. The Government will continue to pay for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders - such as those on work, student's and dependant's passes - admitted to public hospitals for treatment, an MOH spokesman said yesterday.

COVID-19: Singapore widens travel restrictions as minister warns of need to prepare for spikes in cases CNA 3rd Mar 2020
Singapore will block entry and transit for new visitors who travelled to Iran, northern Italy or South Korea within the last 14 days, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (Mar 3), as he warned of the need to be prepared for "new spikes" in COVID-19 cases in Singapore. The measure, which takes effect on Wednesday, is among the additional precautions Singapore is taking to help reduce the risk of imported cases in Singapore. 

Singapore to bar visitors from Cheongdo and Daegu amid rise in coronavirus cases in South Korea The Straits Times 25th Feb 2020
Singapore will bar visitors from Cheongdo county and Daegu city in South Korea, as the number of coronavirus cases in these areas continues to climb. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Tuesday (Feb 25) also sounded an alert that as the number of Covid-19 cases increases worldwide, Singapore must expect to see the number of cases rise because of the risk of imported cases. South Korea, where 10 have died, has raised its virus alert to red - the highest - as the number of cases continues to spike, with a total of 977 at last count.

Singapore Airlines temporarily halts some flights to Indonesian cities The Jakarta Post 24th Feb 2020
Singapore Airlines has canceled some flights to Indonesia until the end of May, including those of subsidiary Silk Air. "Singapore Airlines and SilkAir will temporarily reduce services across our network due to weak demand as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak," the carrier announced on its social media accounts on Feb. 18. The airline has also canceled its services from Singapore to other Southeast Asian destinations, such as Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam and Cambodia.

Thailand

Health certificates required of all visitors Bangkok Post 19th Mar 2020
Travelers to Thailand have to now show authorities a health certificate, issued no more than 72 hours before traveling, confirming that they have been tested and are free from the virus. They must also present an insurance policy showing minimum coverage for coronavirus of not less than US$100,000. It is unclear when the new measure will take effect and how it will be enforced at various border points. Since people cannot get tested for the virus in most places at the moment due to the high costs and shortages of test kits, the requirement is in effect a travel ban although the government stopped short of describing it as such.

Tourism operators want two-week Thai lockdown Bangkok Post 18th Mar 2020
Tourism operators are urging the state to impose a two-week lockdown to keep the coronavirus from spreading to provincial areas. The Thai Federation of Provincial Tourist Associations (TFOPTA) plans to propose the lockdown at a meeting of all tourism-related associations today, seeking approval from other tourism businesses.

Thai- Lao border closed in Phayao Bangkok Post 17th Mar 2020
The border crossing to Laos in Phu Sang district of this northern province has been closed from both sides due to the Covid-19 threat. Phu Sang district chief Wirun Sithiwong said he was informed on Tuesday morning by the chief administrator of Muang Khob, on the Lao  side of the border, that the Pang Mone international border checkpoint had been closed until the Covid-19 situation improves. Therefore, he ordered the Ban Huak checkpoint on the Thai side to also close, effective from Tuesday.

Tourism Ministry hopes for post-virus bounce Bangkok Post 14th Mar 2020
The Tourism and Sports Ministry is expecting 36.9 million foreign tourists to visit Thailand this year if the Covid-19 outbreak grinds to a halt by next month. In case the virus is gone by April, the country can expect a maximum of 36.9 million foreign tourists to visit the country throughout the year, generating 1.78 trillion baht. Thai Hotels Association also noted that said tourists have almost disappeared from hotels, with only 10% occupancy.

Thailand cancels visa on arrival for 18 countries, visa exemptions for 3 Bangkok Post 11th Mar 2020
Thailand on Wednesday temporarily cancelled the grant of visa on arrival for 18 countries and visa exemption for three others to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The 18 countries are: Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Vanuatu. Visa exemption will be cancelled for South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong.

'We have to be resilient': Tourism in Thailand plummets amidst the coronavirus outbreak Business Insider 11th Mar 2020
The  Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced on March 9 that tourist arrivals plummeted by 44.3% in February, the Bangkok Post reports. TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said that the country is bracing for millions fewer foreign tourists in 2020 compared to 2019, anticipating a drop to 30 million from last year's 39.8 million. 

Worst case scenario - Thailand loses 10 million tourists this year The Thaiger 10th Mar 2020
Thailand’s tourist industry could be decimated in the wake of the world coronavirus outbreak. Tourism accounts for an estimated 16% of Thailand’s total GDP. The Tourism Authority of Thailand governor, Yutthasak Supasorn, says that, in a worst case scenario, Thailand could bleed 10 million of it’s projected 40 million tourist arrivals this year. He says his estimates were based on whether the Covid-19 outbreak is not contained soon. In the worst case, the number could fall to 30 million foreign tourists or about 10 million lower than last year. From January 25 – February 29, the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand decreased by 40% compared to the same period last year. Not surprisingly, 81% of the drop was the Chinese tourist market. As for revenue from foreign tourists, the estimated drop is 1.5 billion baht this year, or about three-quarters of last year’s total revenue.

Tourist arrivals plummet 44.3% in February due to coronavirus Bangkok Post 10th Mar 2020
The number of tourist arrivals in Thailand fell 44.3% in February from a year earlier, due to the coronavirus epidemic, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said on Monday. Visitors from China, Thailand's biggest source of tourists, tumbled 85.3%, TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn told a meeting of tourism operators. In the worst-case scenario, the number of foreign tourists may fall to 30 million this year from last year's 39.8 million, with spending down 22%, "if the virus situation bottoms in May," he said. Tourism is crucial to Thailand as spending by foreign visitors amounted to 1.93 trillion baht last year, or 11% of gross domestic product (GDP). The government said last week it will seek cabinet approval on Tuesday for a $3.2 billion stimulus package to ease the virus impact.

Tourism-driven Thailand softens 'compulsory' self-isolation language Reuters 6th Mar 2020
Officials in tourism-reliant Thailand sought on Friday to ease worries about new self-quarantine measures for arrivals from six countries and territories with coronavirus, a day after announcing compulsory isolation.  There had been days of confusion as officials gave different explanations of regulations that could further damage tourism, which accounts for about 12% of Thailand’s economy. South Korea, China, Macao, Hong Kong, Italy and Iran were designated on Thursday as “dangerous communicable disease areas”. Health Ministry spokesman Rungrueng Kiphati said that arrivals from these places would be fined 20,000 baht ($630) if they did not self-quarantine for 14 days at home or in a hotel room. On Friday, however, other health officials took a slightly softer line and recommedned that people people exercise home quarantine.

THAI cancels flights due to virus Bangkok Post 20th Feb 2020
Thai Airways International will cancel some flights to eight countries this and next months as the coronavirus outbreak has crippled air travel. The flight adjustments this month and most of March cover destinations in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Bangladesh and the United Arabs Emirates. Nond Kalinta, vice-president in charge of the Sales Department, said the flight reduction was necessary for the airline as passengers have avoided travelling after the Covid-19 broke out.

Vietnam

Cities and provinces nationwide close tourist attractions to avoid COVID-19 spread vietnamnews.vn 23rd Mar 2020
Provinces across the country have decided to close tourist attractions to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Quang Ngai, Kien Giang close tourist attractions over COVID-19 fears Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 23rd Mar 2020
Authorities in the central province of Quang Ngai and southern province of Kien Giang have closed tourist attractions in the face of the COBoth provinces have asked attractions, museums, community-based tourism spots and amusement parks to stop receiving visitors until further notice. Facilities offering accommodation services must not conduct any act of discrimination against or refuse to serve foreign tourists, while taking measures for COVID-19 prevention and control.VID-19 pandemic.

Vietnam now in third phase of COVID-19 combat: PM VietnamPlus 23rd Mar 2020
Vietnam is entering the third phase of the COVID-19 fight as risks of community spread are high, and the next 20 – 25 days are a big challenge to the country’s efforts in combating the disease, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on March 23. Chairing the meeting between the Government’s permanent members and the national steering committee for the COVID-19 fight, he said in this third phase, there are more people in quarantine. Requesting stronger actions, PM Phuc ordered close control of exit and entry by road, railway and air be continued, concentrated quarantine pushed ahead regardless of how much it costs the State, self-quarantine ensured in line with regulations, and safety for medical workers and other staff engaging in the combat guaranteed.

Việt Nam suspends foreign entry, starting March 22 vietnamnews.vn 21st Mar 2020
The Vietnamese Government late Saturday announced that it would temporarily halt entry to all foreigners, starting 00:00 March 22, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. This latest move was a drastic step up from a decision effective starting March 18 requiring that all foreign and Vietnamese entrants into Việt Nam would have to be quarantined for 14 days, given that the rising number of coronavirus positive cases in the country in recent days have mostly originated from returning Vietnamese and foreign tourists from European countries – especially the UK – which WHO has declared to be the new epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tourism demand stimulus alliance launched Nhan Dan Online 2nd Mar 2020
The Vietnam Tourism Association (VTA) organized a ceremony in Hanoi, on February 21, to announce a tourism stimulus programme and launch a tourism demand stimulus alliance, as well as announce the Safe Travel Criteria for Covid-19 epidemic. The ceremony featured the participation of 250 delegates including businesses, local tourism associations and numerous journalists. The Executive Board of the Vietnam Tourism Demand Stimulus Alliance also has 16 members, including seven deputy chairmen who are representatives of major travel companies, representatives of Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways. VTA Vice Chairman Vu The Binh is Chairman of the Union. The tourism demand stimulus alliance will be responsible for the implementation of a tourism stimulus program across the country, mobilizing resources to implement programs, surveys, and building new tourism products in localities without outbreaks, as well as organising promotion programmes.

February figures display coronavirus impacts on Vietnam tourism VnExpress International 2nd Mar 2020
Vietnam’s tourism industry is suffering the expected impacts of the novel coronavirus outbreak, with foreign arrivals plummeting in February. 1.24 million foreign tourists visiting the country in February, down 38 percent against the previous month and 21.8 percent year-on-year, clearly an impact of the epidemic that has spread to 64 countries and territories and killed more than 3,000 people. The number of Chinese tourists, the biggest feeder market for Vietnamese tourism, in February was 194,000, down 62 percent from a year ago. Vietnam suspended all flights to and from China starting February 1. The Vietnamese government later allowed resumption of services to and from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Vietnam no longer a destination with risk of COVID 19 community spread Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 28th Feb 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on February 27 has decided to take Vietnam off the list of countries with the risk of community spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In a recent teleconference with the Vietnamese Embassy in the US and the US Department of State, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) complimented the efforts of the Vietnamese government in combating and preventing the spread of COVID-19, saying that the country has comprehensively carried out monitoring, quarantine, and treatment activities. Reacting to the actual state of affairs, the CDC has officially removed Vietnam from its list of “Destinations with Risk of Community Spread”. Previously, the list included five countries/territories, including Vietnam, Iran, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. Thus, while Iran has been moved to CDC’s level-2 alert list, on the CDC website as of February 28, Vietnam is no longer on this list.

Tourism sector to propel forward during and after epidemic SGGP English Edition 26th Feb 2020
Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism Ha Van Sieu believed that the country needs to act even before the virus is fully controlled, firstly by shifting focus to countries further on the map like the UK, US, Australia, among other Western nations. At the same time, key neighboring markets with convenient flight connections and high growth rates like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan (China) and ASEAN countries must not be neglected, as well as huge potential markets like India. The Chinese market should also be on the list for as soon as the epidemic is completely curbed. “For now we should focus on investing in tourism infrastructure, improving the quality of human resources, promoting on-site promotion and developing e-marketing systems”, said Director of Hanoi Tourism Department Tran Duc Hai. The department promised to work with businesses to prepare the Inbound Tourism Stimulation Program to put it into operation as soon as the disease subsides.

VFS Global launches the first online portal for Vietnam eVisa on Arrival Travel Trends Today 25th Feb 2020
VFS Global is pleased to announce the launch of the first official and exclusive electronic Visa on Arrival (eVOA) digital solution for the convenience and comfort of travellers to Vietnam. The advanced and digitally integrated solution developed by VFS Global (as an exclusive service provider to the Embassy of Vietnam in India) will offer eVOA applicants a digital wallet/locker (which ensures high levels of data protection). This includes scanned copies of their passport, live facial biometric capture and finally, the receipt of their eVOA approval letters once approved. Customers can also make online payments using the portal.

Formula 1 - Vietnam GP now under threat as international exclusions begin FormulaSpy 25th Feb 2020
The Vietnam Grand Prix is now under threat, as the Vietnamese government has shut its borders to visitors from several countries, including Japan and Italy. The inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, scheduled to be held on April 5th in Hanoi, looks increasingly under threat of postponement or cancellation. This is after the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked the Foreign Affairs Ministry to apply a policy of closed borders to visitors from South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran and ‘all other countries and territories with reported cases of the coronavirus Covid-19. On Tuesday, the Vietnam International Challenge, a badminton Olympic qualifying event, was postponed until June in light of the virus outbreak.

The coronavirus outbreak could cost Vietnam $4 billion in lost tourism in just 3 months, according to the country's department of tourism Business Insider 22nd Feb 2020
Vietnam's department of tourism stated that the outbreak is expected to cause huge damage to Vietnam's tourism industry in the short and medium term. "In three months, the estimated direct damage to Vietnam's tourism industry could reach between $3 and $4 billion," a representative for the country's department of tourism said in an email. Vietnam's tourism industry has seen remarkable growth in recent years. According to the department of tourism, more than 18 million international travelers visited Vietnam in 2019, up 16.2% from 2018. Chinese tourists typically make up more than 30% of all international tourists in Vietnam. With China barring tourists from traveling abroad and Vietnam prohibiting the entry of travelers from areas that have been hit by the coronavirus outbreak, that figure has plummeted.