A new travel bubble that will facilitate easier travel between three of Southeast Asia’s most popular destinations for backpackers is set to launch later this month. The Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), which is set to be similar in nature to those that have previously been in effect between Singapore and several other nations, could go some way towards restoring travel figures for the once wildly popular region, and is provisionally set to include Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia. Travelers will be able to enter one country and then move freely between the three.
Travel bubbles were once thought to be the answer to travel during the pandemic. However, frequent cancellations, changes and disruptions to bubbles that were established throughout the pandemic meant that their implementation hasn’t always been seen as a sustainable solution – but for these Southeast Asian countries, they just might be. Here’s a look at what we know so far about the planned Southeast Asian travel bubble.
New Travel Bubble – What Travelers Should Know
The last couple of decades has seen Southeast Asia boom as a destination for tourists from all over the world, catering for all travelers regardless of their budget. However, the pandemic has hit the region hard, particularly as so many businesses in Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia are dependent on income from tourism in one way or another. The fall in traveler confidence, coupled with some of the world’s strictest entry requirements at the behest of the region’s governments, has seen tourism numbers shrink to mere fractions of what they once were.
However, the new travel bubble could spell a brighter future for travel in Southeast Asia. With entry to the likes of Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia still a headache to arrange, the opportunity to be able to enter one and move freely between the three of them is one that travelers leaning towards a trip to Southeast Asia may find too enticing to turn down.
Details about the plan were revealed by Malaysia’s Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong on Friday. The Minister revealed that Malaysia’s government was making plans to implement the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) by air with Thailand and Cambodia as early as March 15th. According to the Minister, travelers flying between the three countries would not need to quarantine, putting backpacking trips between the countries back on the menu.
In order to be able to travel on the quarantine-free travel bubble, travelers will need to make sure that they are traveling on specific flights. Malaysia’s Transport Minister stated that an initial offering of six daily Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur flights and four day Phuket-Kuala Lumpur flights would qualify, whilst two flights between Kuala-Lumpur and Phnom Penh in Cambodia would be available. More flights could be added at a later date subject to agreement and demand. They must also be fully vaccinated.
The Minister also added that discussions with other ASEAN countries were set to continue, which could see the travel bubble expand to include them in the future. ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a political and economic union between Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – meaning the travel bubble could develop into a backpacker’s dream.
More details about the travel bubble are set to be released in the coming days after all the intricacies of the plan are confirmed, which will provide travelers with a clearer picture of how they can best take advantage of the route. The news also coincides with the easing of entry restrictions across the region, which could see Southeast Asia emerge as a must-visit destination this summer.
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