Asia Minute: Business Dominating Cautious Regional Travel

Jun 24, 2020

Governor David Ige says he’s close to announcing details of a plan to re-open trans-Pacific travel to Hawaii. Other locations in the region are taking a cautious approach, but moving to a new phase this week.

More than four hundred business people will be heading from Japan to Vietnam this week. Vietnam’s Foreign Minister says they’ll be on three chartered flights arriving between Thursday and Saturday.

Japan’s Foreign Minister says the travelers all agreed to “enhanced preventative measures” — diplomatic speak for steps including coronavirus tests. That follows the pattern that has been established with other limited travel of some business groups in Asia — such as the delegation of South Korean executives who flew to China last month.

Business, not tourism, has been the primary motivating factor of what little regional travel there’s been in Asia. According to government figures, Japan was the fourth largest foreign investor in Vietnam last year — trailing only South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Vietnamese publication VN Express says Vietnam has also become the largest source of foreign labor for Japan — with roughly 80,000 Vietnamese working in Japan last year.

Late last week, Thailand’s top aviation regulator said that country might allow some inbound international travel next month — with the first groups allowed in likely to be business delegations.