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Australia sets travel bubble with New Zealand, Asian countries by August

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Australia sets travel bubble with New Zealand, Asian countries by August | Thaiger
Stock photo by Josh Withers for Unsplash

Travel bubbles for those travelling from Australia to destinations in Asia and the Pacific region could be imposed by August. The country has already agreed on the Trans-Tasman travel bubble with New Zealand, set to start in a few weeks. Singapore is in the cards to be set up next while Australian authorities are looking into other potential bilateral agreements with countries with a low number of active Covid-19 infections.

Under the travel agreement with New Zealand, quarantine will be waived for those travelling from Australia. Those travelling from New Zealand will be allowed to enter Australia without quarantine, but they will need to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive back in New Zealand.

Australian PM Scott Morrison says the travel route with New Zealand is an “important first step.”

“This is the first of many more steps to come, I believe, as we get back to a more normal position, not only over the course of this year but beyond.”

Morrison says the Australian government is looking into potential travel routes between Singapore, Japan and South Korea. Some sources say a travel bubble between Fiji and Australia is being discussed.

“We have looked at places like Singapore and Japan and South Korea and countries like this, but at this stage we are not in a position to move forward on any of those.”

Singapore is said to be next on the list, but Singapore might require vaccination certificates, either a physical paper document or a digital certificate that verifies that the traveller has been vaccinated against Covid-19.

“From time to time, steps might have to be taken to protect both countries if there is a sizable outbreak. I think that is just assumed as part of how we all live with COVID-19… We will continue to follow what I would call a proportionate response and I would encourage states to follow the same process. Increasingly, that is what we’re seeing this year.”

SOURCE: The Age

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Jason

    Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    The way to reopening is by arranging mutually beneficial relationships between countries of low risk. No country acting in isolation will achieve anything signifigant.

  2. Avatar

    Jase R

    Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 6:25 pm

    Incorrect. When a New Zealander returns from Australia they DO NOT do 14 day quarantine. Who wants to go to Australia for 3 or 4 days holiday and then pay $3100 for a 14 day isolation??
    I know this because I live in New Zealand.

  3. Avatar

    Jason M

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    This article is incorrect on a number of points.

    As mentioned by Jase R. There will be no need to quarantine when returning from Australia from late April. Also, the bubble from NZ to Australia (one way) was opened in October last year. The reciprocal arrangement has only just been implemented by the NZ government (not Australian).

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Tourism

Most travel-friendly passport list 2021 revealed

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Most travel-friendly passport list 2021 revealed | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Japan tops the list of most travel-friendly passports.

The Henley Passport Index, which rates what passports are the most travel-friendly, has just released the list for 2021, with Japan once again topping the list. The Index commented that this international travel freedom comparison is mostly theoretical since Covid-19 has severely limited most travel worldwide. With a Japanese passport, travellers can enter 193 countries without a visa or with a visa-on-arrival. On the other end of the list, Afghanistan can only get into 26 countries. The gap of 167 countries is the widest gap since the Henley Passport Index began tracking this data 15 years ago in 2006.

Singapore kept its second-place standing with just one less destination than Japan, followed by Germany and South Korea tied for 3rd place with 191 destinations. The rest of the top 10 are mainly European countries, with the exception of New Zealand and the US as part of the 5-way tie for 7th place with 187 destinations, and Australia and Canada tied for 9th place with 185 destinations.

The United States and the United Kingdom took a tumble, once tied for the most travel-friendly passport in 2014, now losing ground slipping to 7th. On the other hand, United Arab Emirates strengthened diplomatic ties worldwide and jumped 50 spots this year from 65th all the way to 15th. Over the decade, the climb is even more dramatic, with the Emirates exploding from 67 destinations 10 years ago up 107 destinations to 174 this year. China did well also, climbing 22 places since 2011, up to number 68 on the list.

Thailand’s passport is tied with Saudi Arabia at 66th with 79 destinations available without an advance visa.

The full 2021 top 10 list:
1. Japan (193 destinations)
2. Singapore (192)
3. Germany, South Korea (191)
4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (190)
5. Austria, Denmark (189)
6. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (188)
7. Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (187)
8. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway (186)
9. Australia, Canada (185)
10. Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia (183)

Henley and Partners predict that the spread in passport access will mirror Covid-19 affected travel. Rich and mobile regions like the US, UK, EU and UAE are getting access to vaccination, hastening their ability to travel, while poorer and developing economies are experiencing a much slower vaccine roll-out. Experts from Syracuse University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the Migration Policy Centre predict this trend will continue with potentially devastating long-term effects.

Countries that can afford and facilitate vaccination for their citizens quickly will be able to welcome travellers in for tourism and business and be able to travel more themselves. Conversely, countries that can’t afford the storage and distribution of vaccines will be less able to travel or welcome tourism income, widening a global wealth gap. Remote working and the digital nomad lifestyle has been booming in recent years and with Covid-19 forcing businesses to adapt to telecommuting, the post-pandemic world will see more remote working, and countries falling behind with vaccinations will suffer the long-term loss in tourism dollars too.

SOURCE: CNN

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals

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Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Artist rendering of a "hospitel" - a hotel converted to a hospital.

With the third wave of Covid-19 ripping through Thailand, hospitals are rapidly filling up and the Thai Hotels Association has proposed “hospitels” as a creative solution. The portmanteau of “hospital” and “hotel” is the THA’s brainchild for creating more space for the growing number of Covid-19 infections that require treatment or at least observation as Thailand hits record daily case numbers. The idea of turning hotels into temporary hospitals was promoted by association president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi this week.

“The move aims to reduce crowdedness at hospitals and promote continuous care for Covid-19 patients after new cases increased rapidly since late March.”

23 hotels have already registered to be hospitals, with 2,000 patients currently receiving treatment in the 4,900 available beds. The Ministry of Public Health laid out guidelines for hotels interested in participating. Hotels must have a minimum of 30 rooms and pass the alternative state quarantine evaluation. The ASQ-approved properties must have evidence of acknowledgement by the surrounding community to confirm their validity and eligibility. The hotel must be able and willing to take care of hospitalised patients for 5 to 7 days, even with no signs of symptom progression. Conversely, patients checking in must agree to stay in the hotel and be relatively self-sufficient.

Strict medical requirements must be met as well. Each patient must be provided with their own digital thermometer and pulse oximeter, and a portable x-ray machine must be available. The hotels must be staffed like hospitals, with at least one doctor, a clinical psychologist, a pharmacist, a radiologist, and an infection control nurse. There must also be one nurse per every 20 patients staying at the property.

This proposed solution might provide a welcomed supplement to the rudimentary field hospitals the Thai army has been hastily building to accommodate the influx of newly infected patients. While the quick work is commendable, some have hypothesized that at-risk foreigners may be ignoring calls to come forward for Covid-19 testing in part because being diagnosed may land them in these less-than-posh field hospitals for days on end. A more comfortable “hospitel” would allow infected foreigners to be treated in more pleasant surroundings thus encouraging them to come forward for testing.

SOURCE: National News Bureau and Nation Thailand

 

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Tourism

Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp”

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Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp” | Thaiger
PHOTO: The monsoon waves are starting to hit Phuket's west coast

Thailand’s Sports and Tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is acknowledging that Phuket’s ‘Sandbox’ model for a no-quarantine re-opening in July will need “a major revamp”. As the Songkran travel bubble bursts and the monsoon season waves start to roll onto the island’s west coast beaches, Phuket’s scheduled July re-boot suddenly seems a long way off.

Minister Phiphat says he plans to meet with “all related agencies” this week. Apart from the latest national re-surge in new infections, Phuket has been unable to get its hands on sufficient vaccines to meed its deadline of 70% of the island vaccinated by July 1. Thailand’s limited supplies of the vaccine – including some 930,000 doses designated for Phuket – are being rerouted to other provinces as the government prioritises the limited supply.

“We are all concerned about the reopening timeline,” he was quoted in Bangkok Post.

But the Minister did acknowledge that, if the 70% vaccination level couldn’t be met, they may consider opening some areas of the island. Exactly how that would work hasn’t been revealed at this stage.

The minister also brought up the ongoing travel bubble negotiations and says he hadn’t heard back from some of the candidates with their reaction to the current outbreak.

Flights in and out of Phuket Airport’s international terminal have been extremely patchy and the flights from feeder tourist markets will need to co-operate with any re-opening plans.

Phuket, whilst suffering a rise in new infections, hasn’t been hit as hard as some of the other popular holiday provinces, like Chiang Mai, Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin).

This year’s Songkran was going to be a major stepping stone for the island’s recovery and many hotels, some who had opened especially to cater for Songkran holiday traffic, noted a lot of cancellations just prior to the break.

But some island hotels have still reported high occupancy rates over the past week. One Manager, who did not want his name published, said that their hotel was almost full with Thai patrons, most who had pre-paid for their flights and accommodation and decided to go ahead anyway.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, the president of the Phuket Tourist Association, says that they are opposed to any lockdown as it would cripple the island, with its tourist businesses already suffering greatly. He stated that 15% of people cancelled their Songkran bookings, while 30% had postponed their trips.

The Sports and Tourism Ministers is still in quarantine after having close contact with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 2 weeks ago.

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