Bali, Thailand and Philippines reopen for tourism

The Philippines is hoping to reignite its tourism sector with the reopening of its borders to vaccinated travellers.

Some of Australia’s favourite destinations are set to reopen their borders with Bali, the Philippines and Thailand opening from this week.

The Philippines will welcome vaccinated visitors back from February 10, with residents of 150 countries including Australia that have visa-free entry to the Philippines allowed to enter.

“(This) will contribute significantly to job restoration, primarily in tourism-dependent communities, and in the reopening of businesses that have earlier shut down,” Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

Bali has announced it will reopen to vaccinated international tourists from Friday. However, vaccinated travellers will still have to quarantine for five days.

Singapore Airlines said on Friday it would resume flights to Bali from Singapore starting on February 16.

Thailand has also restarted its quarantine-free entry program for all vaccinated travellers on Tuesday after a five-week suspension.

Bali’s tourism-based economy is hoping for a much needed boost with the reopening of its borders.

However, travellers must take two PCR tests on day one and day five and will have to stay in a Thai government-approved hotel until they test negative on the fifth day.

While Australia is still closed off from most of the world, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated he wants to see international visitors back before April.

But that is not fast enough for many, with the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) saying the current restrictions make no sense given the high case numbers in Australia compared to some countries it has still currently closed off to.

“Australia now has a higher covid infection rate than the UK and the US but we continue to maintain our border closures to these international visitors, applying huge economic stress to businesses across the country,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“Given every person arriving in Australia has to be fully vaccinated and tested, there simply is no greater health risk which would result from reopening our international borders, rather it would provide a huge relief to an already burdened and struggling tourism sector.

“The hermit kingdom approach to protecting our borders is no longer viable and we need urgent clarity from the Government on when we can welcome international visitors, and it needs to be immediate.”