Our hearts go out to you amid the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It cannot be overstated how difficult this time is for the global community, for the industry that is grinding to a halt, for your clients, for your companies, and for each of us as individuals. We will look back upon this period as a defining time for our era. The travel industry is experiencing the greatest reduction in business in our lifetimes.
Please see specific information about the member countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion below: Cambodia. PR China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam
Travel around the world continues to be affected by the novel corona virus.
The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office would like to inform its partners on the latest developments around COVID-19. We are constantly gathering updates on the measures taken by the different destination countries to stop the spreading of COVID-19.
The outbreak of the corona virus has hit some destinations particularly hard, as a stark decline in Chinese Outbound tourists, and a general fear of traveling, especially to some destinations in Asia. While nobody can predict when things turn back to normal, or if we need to adapt to a new reality in travel, destinations can do a few things during this time, instead of solely focusing on declining numbers and fear:
Diversify Source Markets: We have seen many destinations have relied dangerously on the Chinese market. And when it comes to the Chinese market, many destinations have focused on easy to capture, but less profitable mass tour groups, that showed nice growth numbers. Diversifying should be one of the biggest lessons from the coronavirus, and even within China, there are multiple market segments that drive more yield and sustainability. Develop a robust Feeder Market Channel Strategy vs the usual market segmentation channel strategy. Focus on your short-haul feeder-markets and especially on your drive-in feeder markets. Why? People will continue to travel, especially on short-haul and shorter stay trips.
Develop Sustainability Strategies and Programs: Now is also a good time to step back and look at developing more robust and scalable digital platforms, reduce single-use plastic and food waste, and revamp your product and distribution strategies. Implementing sustainability strategies sometimes is not always top priority, especially when business is good and the hectic of the day to day operations makes implementation challenging. Many of these programs can result in financial benefits in the long-term, in addition to saving the planet.
Leverage Industry Association and Partnerships: For destinations in the Mekong Region, taking advantage of the free or low-cost programs of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office. Also, organizations like the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has various services in the region, as well as other travel industry associations. This is a way to collaborate as judging from the past SARS outbreak, individual destination campaigns are unlikely to be very effective with long-haul travelers, even if the destinations are virus-free. North American and European travelers will be hesitant to return to Asia until it is completely safe. Now is the time to collaborate to work together in restoring confidence and rebuilding business. This cannot be done alone in silos but has to be done in partnership as a united industry.
Assess risks and prepare solutions to potential challenges in advance. Destinations have to assess potential risks and prepare for potential emergency cases in advance. This does not only apply for cases such as COVID-19 or natural disasters. It can also be responses to over-crowding of destinations or environmental emergencies. Destinations have to take long-term look and opportunities and challenges and prepare in advance. We are working with destinations to support them in their strategies and align them throughout the region.
As many destinations have relied on the Chinese outbound market, the effect has resulted in a drastic decline in tourism numbers.
GMS COUNTRY UPDATES
Please see below for updates about travel requirements in each of our six GMS member countries:
There are no travel restrictions issued by the Cambodian government. Officials perform temperature screenings on arriving travelers at international airports.
The General Department of Waterway And Maritime Transport, and Ports of Cambodia has announced that from the 13th Mar 2020 until future notice, all international tourist cruises are not allowed to enter Cambodia.
The Cambodian government has announced a temporary entry stop for Italian, German, Spanish, French and American citizens for a period of 30 days starting from Tuesday the 17th of March till 16th April 2020.
Last updated on March 20:
Passengers arriving from France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Spain or USA are not allowed to enter Cambodia. – This does not apply to nationals and residents of Cambodia. Nationals and residents of Cambodia, diplomats and officials of foreign embassies and international organizations and their family members who have a Diplomatic Visa Type A and Official Visa Type B who live or have been in France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Spain or USA in the past 14 days will be quarantine for 14 days. – This does not apply to airline crew. Source
Other nationalities can technically still arrive however given the introduction of quarantine measures in which travellers can get caught up, we advise nationalities other than the 5 above to POSTPONE any travel to CAMBODIA until 31 March 2020. Read more
Last updates on temporary closure for 18th of March
The National Museum is closed until further notice.
The S21 Toul Sleng Museum is closed until further notice.
The Killing Fields are closed until further notice.
Wat Phnom is closed until further notice.
The Royal Palace is closed until further notice.
The Silver Pagoda is closed until further notice.
The Angkor National Museum is closed until further notice.
Last updated on March 25:
Effective 00:00 local time 28 March 2020, passengers are not allowed to transit or enter China (People’s Rep.).
– This does not apply to nationals of China (People’s Rep.).
– This does not apply to passengers with a diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visa.
– This does not apply to passengers with a visa issued after 28 March 2020.
- All passengers arriving at PEK will have a PCR test and be quarantined at the designated location in Beijing for 14 days.
- Passengers who live in or have been in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Italy, Korea (Rep.), Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain , Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom or USA in the past 14 days arriving at Shanghai Pudong (PVG) or Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA) must undergo 14-day quarantine at home or in designated places for medical observation.
- Passengers who have not been in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Italy, Korea (Rep.), Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain , Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom or USA in the past 14 days arriving at Shanghai Pudong (PVG) or Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA) must undergo a Nucleic Acid Testing.
- Passengers who live in or have been in France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Korea (Rep.), Spain or USA in the past 14 days arriving at Guangzhou (CAN) or Shenzhen (SZX) must undergo 14-day quarantine at home or in designated places for medical observation. All passengers arriving at SZX will have a PCR test.
- All passengers arriving at XMN will be quarantined for medical observation at the designated hotels for 14 days on their own expenses.
– This does not apply to passengers under 18 years old, passengers above 70 years old, pregnant women and passengers suffering from illness. They must apply for permission to undergo a 14-day quarantine at home. Source
China has banned outbound tourist groups and individuals.
Authorities have introduced preventative measures across China, including temperature checks at transport hubs and other locations; quarantine arrangements for travel between different parts of the country; and restrictions on travel between and within cities.
Many tourist attractions are closed, in addition to other public and private entities such as schools and businesses.
Lao PDR has suspended flights to China. There are no official restrictions for travellers entering Laos.
Lao PDR has sealed off Golden Triangle roads at the borders with China and Myanmar.
Last updated on March 20:
The government of Laos has announced that travellers who are unable to leave Laos because of the COVID-19 outbreak, can extend their tourist visa at the provincial immigration offices.
The fee would be the same as for a regular extension, and the process would take 24 hours. Source
Last updated on March 19:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic presents its compliments to all Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations accredited to the Lao PDR and has the honour to inform the latter that in response to the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak around the world, the Lao PDR will further implement the visa measures, beyond those already in place, to reduce the risk of importation of the virus to the Lao PDR as follows:
1. Suspend issuing visa on arrivals for all nationals
2. Suspend issuing Tourist Visa at Lao Diplomatic Mission Overseas
3. Suspend issuing eVisa
4. Suspend practicing of visa exemption for nationals of ASEAN countries and nationals of countries that signed agreement on visa exemption both unilateral and bilateral with the Lao PDR ( excluding holders of diplomatic and official passports)
5. Issue visas for visitors who intended to visit the Lao PDR with non tourist purposes only. Visitors will have to submit requisite information on their health and related documents to the Lao diplomatic missions in the country they are resident for approval before the intended date of travel. Visitors who arrive in the Lao PDR without the necessary approval will be denied entry into the country. Application form on health declaration will be available on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs“ ”
The above mentioned measures will enter into force from 00 hour of 20th March 2020, PM to 00 hour of 20th April 2020, PM.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic avails itself of this opportunity to renew to all Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations accredited to the Lao PDR in Vientiane the assurances of its highest consideration. Source
Last updated on March 25:
Additional Precautionary Restrictions for travellers from all countries visiting Myanmar
- With a view to preventing importation and spread of COVID-19, the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar is obliged to take additional precautionary measures to control and limit the risk that travellers from all countries may pose to the populations in Myanmar.
- The following additional temporary restrictive measures will take effect for incoming travellers from all countries starting from 25 March 2020, 0000 hours (Myanmar standard time) –
2.1 All incoming Myanmar nationals from any country will be subject to a 14-day facility quarantine on their arrival in Myanmar.
2.2 All foreign nationals travelling to Myanmar are required to present laboratory evidence of absence of CoVii)-i9 infection issued no more than 72 hours prior to the date of travel before boarding any airline destined for Myanmar. They will be subject to a 14-day facility quarantine on their arrival in Myanmar.
2.3 All diplomats accredited to Myanmar and United Nations officials working in Myanmar are also required to present laboratory evidence of absence of COVID-19 infection issued no more than 72 hours prior to the date of travel before boarding any airline destined for Myanmar. They will be subject to home quarantine for 14 days on their arrival in Myanmar.
This notification shall supersede the precautionary measures announced earlier.
Last updated on March 24:
Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has shut all border checkpoints to foreign visitors. The temporary closure remains in place until further notice. Read more
- All visa issuances are suspended until 30 April 2020.
- Nationals of China (People’s Rep.) are not allowed to transit Myanmar without a visa.
Effective 25 March 2020:
- Passengers will be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival.
- Passengers must have a lab test proving they are free from Coronavirus (COVID-19).
– This does not apply to nationals of Myanmar. Source
Last updated on March 18:
The government of Myanmar has announced that all entertainment venues such as KTV, movie theaters, night clubs, spas, and massage parlours are closed until further notice. Source
Latest updated on March 16:
- The Myanmar government is preparing to quarantine or turn away tourists from Italy, Germany, France, Spain, and Iran, the countries that have been hit the worst by COVID-19, according to the Union of Myanmar Travel Association on Sunday (March 15).
- The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement has ordered the closure of all preschools and nurseries starting March 16 until the end of April as part of the efforts to protect people from COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Central Bank of Myanmar announced March 13 that the implementation of a 0.5 percent cut in interest rates will start on Monday (March 16), instead of April 1 as originally planned.
- The Myanmar Rice Federation announced on March 13 it will ensure a steady supply of grains in the local market to support demand. It also said the public need not worry about rice shortages as Myanmar has sufficient reserves. Dealers will continue distributing rice at normal prices. Read more
Travellers from outbreak regions are asked to report to the Airport Quarantine Desk to fill in a medical report form. Upon arrival at the point of entry Travellers are subject to primary fever screening. Temperature checks are also set up at hotels and shopping malls.
No restrictions have been put in place for tourist attractions.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has suspended visas-on-arrival for Chinese travelers to Myanmar. Read more
Last updated on March 27:
The Office of International Cooperation, Department of Disease Control (DDC), Ministry of Public Health has opened a dedicated hotline for foreigners in Thailand to inquire about COVID-19 related matters at +66 (0) 96 847 8209 or +66 (0) 92 726 0474, from 08.00 – 20.00 Hrs. Thailand local time.
DDC previously handled all inquiries from both Thais and foreigners via the main Hotline 1422. Read more
Last updated on March 24:
Thailand closes border checkpoints. Read more
Last updated on March 23:
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like to provide the latest update that the Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health has updated its list of ongoing local transmission areas regarding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), including affected areas reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Read more
Starting from the 22nd of March at 00 h 00, the following measures will be in effect in Thailand:
For foreign nationals:
- All passengers must be able to produce a Health Certificate certifying that they are not infected. This document must be issued within 72 hours of the departure time.
- All passengers must have health insurance for minimum medical coverage of 100 000 USD in Thailand and covers the treatment of COVID-19.
Thai Nationals returning to Thailand:
- All passengers must be able to produce a Health Certificate certifying that they are fit to fly.
- All passengers must have a letter issued by the Royal Thai Embassy, Thai Consular Office or Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Kingdom of Thailand certifying that the passenger is Thai National returning to Thailand. Read more
On March 20
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like to provide the latest update that the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has upgraded its notification on the practical guidelines for airlines operating international flights to Thailand in its intensified effort to support Thailand’s nationwide surveillance measures to combat the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Issued on 19 March, 2020
effective from Sunday, 22 March, 2020, at 00.00 Hrs. Thailand local time onwards, the CAAT’s upgraded guidelines now require all airlines to check the required documentation from foreign travellers regardless of their flight origins.
Upon flight check-in, all foreign travellers must present a health certificate issued no more than 72 hours prior to the date of travel certifying that they pose no risk of being infected by the COVID–19. Each traveller must also present a health insurance policy with a minimum medical coverage of US$ 100,000 in Thailand of COVID-19. Read more
On March 18
The Government of Thailand has announced the following measures:
- Thai New Year, or Songkran, holidays and celebrations, from the 13th to the 15th of April, 2020, are postponed until further notice.
- 14-day closure of universities, international schools and tutorial schools, from the 18th to 31st of March, 2020.
- Temporary closure of Muay Thai stadiums, sports stadiums, horse race tracks, cinemas, pubs/bars, and entertainment venues in Bangkok and the vicinity until further notice.
- The hosting of events and activities which attract large crowds; such as, concerts, exhibitions and trade fairs, and religious, cultural and sports events, will be up to the discretion of each provincial governor and the local communicable disease control office.
For venues that need to remain open, including shopping venues, markets and office buildings, the government has asked for stricter surveillance measures. Operators of shops and restaurants are also asked to implement stricter screening and cleanliness. Source
On March 15, The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like to provide clarification on our recent update issued on 13 March, 2020, titled “Thailand temporarily suspends visas for 21 countries to contain COVID-19,” especially for passport holders of South Korea, Hong Kong SAR and Russia. Read more
Upon arrival at the point of entry travelers are subject to primary fever screening by thermo scanners and infrared thermometers and a questionnaire on their travel history and contact information. Travelers with no fever will receive a health beware card and be allowed to enter the country. Travelers with a body temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius and who have COVID-19 symptoms will be isolated and transferred to a designated hospital for quarantine or treatment. Travelers who have been in contact or seated in the close vicinity of the suspected cases will be followed up for 14 days in accordance with the disease prevention and control standards.
Thailand has recently announced the visa on arrival cancellation for 18 countries and visa exemption of three countries including South Korea, Italy, and Hong Kong. Read more
The Airports of Thailand (AOT) has stepped up its surveillance, prevention and control measures for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) at Don Mueang Airport. Aimed at ensuring health confidence among travellers, the enhanced measures at Don Mueang Airport include extra screening points with handheld thermometers at:
- Immigration’s passport control, International Departures, Level 3, International Passenger Terminal 1
- Security screening, Domestic Departures, Level 3, Domestic Passenger Terminal 2
- Entry screening, Domestic Arrivals, Level 1, Domestic Passenger Terminal 2
The extra screening points are in addition to the entry screening points at the International Arrivals, Level 1, International Passenger Terminal 1.
Due to the extra screening, travellers are advised to arrive at Don Mueang Airport at least three hours before your scheduled departure time.
The Airports of Thailand (AOT) has stepped up its surveillance, prevention and control measures for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The enhanced measures include:
- 5 entry screening points with thermal scans and handheld thermometers
- 2 at the Arrival Concourse D.
- 3 at the Immigration’s passport control.
- 4 departure screening points with thermal scans and handheld thermometers
- 1 at the security screening, International Departures Zone 3.
- 1 at the Immigration’s passport control, Fast Track Lane, International Departures Zone 3.
- 1 at the Immigration’s passport control, Fast Track Lane, International Departures Zone 2.
- 1 at the Immigration’s passport control, International Departures Zone 1. Read more
Last updated on March 22:
From March 22 until further notice, Vietnam has temporarily suspended entry for all foreign nationals, as well as Vietnamese and their spouses and children holding visa exemption certificates. Vietnam will not be issuing visas or allowing entry to travellers at this time. Read more
Last updated on March 20:
Vietnam Airlines will temporarily suspend all international flights within its network until the estimated date of the 30th of April, 2020.
- Flights connecting Vietnam and China, Hongkong, Macau, South Korea, France, Russia, Malaysia, and Taiwan have been halted.
- Flights to and from Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar will be halted from the 21st of March.
- Flights to and from the UK and Japan will be temporarily suspended from the 23rd of March.
- Flights to Germany and Australia will be stopped from the 24th while those returning to Vietnam will be halted from the 25th of March. Read more
Last updated on March 18:
Vietnam Airlines has announced it will suspend its flights to France starting from the 17th of March until further notice. The national carrier added that their flights between Vietnam and Malaysia will be suspended from the 18th until the 31st of March because of the Malaysian government’s temporary border closure announcement.
The government of Vietnam has announced measures in the following provinces:
• Binh Thuan: all boats, all accommodations, all tourist sites, and all restaurants are closed until further notice.
• Ha Giang: all accommodations, all tourist sites, and all restaurants are closed until further notice.
• Dong Nai: all tourist sites, and all entertainment venues are closed until further notice.
• Aquatopia Water Park (Hon Thom) is closed until further notice. The Hon Thom cable car remains open.
Latest update on March 15: Starting at 12 PM Sunday, 15 March 2020 (for 30 days), no entry to visitors from the European Schengen Area and U.K, or visitors coming from these countries, is allowed. Visitors travelling through or coming from China, South Korea, and Iran will also be denied entry. Visa-on-arrival for all foreigners will not be possible.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has removed Vietnam from the list of destinations with risk of community spread.
Upon arrival at the point of entry travelers are subject to primary fever screening by thermo scanners and infrared thermometers and a questionnaire on their travel history and contact information. Travelers with no fever will receive a health beware card and be allowed to enter the country. Travelers with a body temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius and who have COVID-19 symptoms will be isolated and transferred to a designated hospital for quarantine or treatment. Travelers who have been in contact or seated in the close vicinity of the suspected cases will be followed up for 14 days in accordance with the disease prevention and control standards.All flights to and from mainland China on all airlines have been indefinitely suspended by the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam. Flights connecting to Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan are operational with many airlines running reduced routes. Read more
Travelers arriving from as well as those who have transited through South Korea are required to submit medical declarations upon arrival in Vietnam, and may be placed in quarantine if showing symptoms of the virus.
Travelers who have transited through mainland China, and outbreak areas of South Korea within the past 14 days will be refused entry to Vietnam.
The Italian Embassy has confirmed that visitors from Italy and Iran will be placed under quarantine for 15 days, or will be asked to return to their port of departure. Italian citizens arriving from other countries are asked to fill in a form upon arrival and undergo a temperature check. Each case will be decided upon separately by the Vietnamese Immigration Police.
Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Pacific have announced they will temporarily waive flight change and refund fees for passengers flying to or from Chinese cities until further notice.
Vietnam Airlines and Air Seoul have reduced flights between South Korea and Vietnam, while Bamboo Airways’ routes from Nha Trang and Đà Nẵng to Seoul are cancelled indefinitely from February 26.
Visitors from other affected countries may be subjected to restrictions at the discretion of the Vietnamese government.
The following events have been cancelled or postponed:
- Yen Tu Festival in Quang Ninh – Cancelled
- Tam Chuc Festival in Ha Nam – Cancelled
- Tran Temple Festival in Nam Dinh – Cancelled
- Huyen Tran Festival in Hue – Cancelled
- Da Nang International Fireworks Festival 2020 – Cancelled
- Activities for Visit Vietnam Year 2020 in Ninh Binh, Hoa Lu – Postponed
- Huế Festival 2020 – Postponed to August 28, 2020
- Da Lat Sufferfest – Postponed
- Quang Binh Marathon – Postponed
- Techcombank Ha Noi Marathon – Postponed
- Sunrise Sprint – Postponed to May 3, 2020
Vietnam’s inaugural Formula One Grand Prix is postponed. New dates will be announced later on this year.
Pedestrian and walking zones in Hue and Hanoi — common gathering places for locals and tourists — will be closed until the situation improves.
Source: Focus Asia, Forwardkeys, Dragon Trail, MTCO, National Tourism Department