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Asia Minute: Mixed welcomes for regional visitors

AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

Gov. David Ige says Hawaiʻi is seeing domestic visitor arrivals return to their pre-pandemic levels, while international visitors are returning more slowly. When it comes to Hawaiʻi residents traveling elsewhere in the Pacific, it’s still a mixed picture.

The Philippines is one of the latest countries in the Asia Pacific to announce that it will soon allow visits by travelers vaccinated against COVID-19.

There’s no specific timeline on that yet — but the country’s tourism minister says it’s a move that’s needed to help the economy.

In 2019, the Philippines hosted more than 8 million international travelers.

Last year that number plunged to fewer than 1.5 million.

It’s been a similar story elsewhere in Southeast Asia where more countries are announcing plans to re-open — mostly to vaccinated travelers.

Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia are among the countries that have introduced or expanded opportunities for travel in recent weeks.

Northeast Asia is still much more hesitant when it comes to rolling out the welcome mat for visitors.

South Korea requires 10 days of quarantine for most visitors — and because of a recent surge in cases especially in the Seoul area, the U.S. State Department has an advisory to “reconsider travel” to the country.

Elsewhere in the region, countries are generally not yet ready for visitors.

Most are not allowed into China — and while Japan is starting to loosen some restrictions on students and some business travelers, it does not appear close to welcoming tourists anytime soon.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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