After being closed for nearly 600 days, Australia has opened its international borders Monday 1 st November, for the first time since March 2020.
Correspondent for the German-speaking public radio SRF and also a collaborator of SWI swissinfo.ch, the Swiss Urs Wälterlin did not wait a minute longer to take advantage of it. On Monday, he announced to SRF have purchased a flight to Switzerland as soon as possible. It flew on Tuesday, November 2, the day after its reservation.
Hundreds of Australians who had been stranded abroad since March 2020 have also returned home, Urs Wälterlin told SRF. Australia had been in containment for 262 days, a duration unmatched in the world. The journalist also said that his son, who lives only 100 kilometers from his home but in another state, was not allowed to visit him. “It was very difficult to live with.”
Thailand has also opened its borders the 1 st of November. The tourism sector is particularly pleased with this. “Many hotel complexes located on tourist islands have been deserted, restaurants closed and commercial buildings abandoned”, describes from Bangkok Josef Schnyder, who is a member of the Council of the Swiss Abroad.
The tourism sector breathes
“Thailand has understood that we have to find a way to live with the virus, that’s a good thing,” says Josef Schnyder. It’s also good for the economy, he adds. Many of his Swiss relatives who work in the tourism sector can now breathe.
But this long shutdown also had positive effects, notes Josef Schnyder. “In Thailand, nature has been able to reconstitute itself,” says the 60-year-old, who has just returned from Ko Phi Phi. “It was unique without the influx of tourists,” he enthuses.
Normally, Josef Schnyder returns to Switzerland twice a year, something he had not done since the start of the pandemic. He recently visited the country, but for compelling professional reasons, with the obligation to respect a two-week quarantine.
Swiss politics are also benefiting from this openness: the President of the Council of States Alex Kuprecht and the State Councilor Benedikt Würth are visiting Indonesia and Thailand this week. “Around 10,000 people of Swiss origin live in Thailand, making it the Asian country with the largest community of Swiss abroad. The President of the Council of States will meet the representatives of this community at the Swiss Embassy in Bangkok ”, we can read in the description of this official trip.
It remains to be seen whether the Thai tourism industry will recover this quickly. In recent years, most of its tourists have come from China, a country that has yet to reopen its borders.
SRF correspondent Karin Wenger adds: “It is also likely that many Europeans have already booked other destinations for their winter vacation for safety. In addition, there are still some regulations to be able to enter the country. ”
Christmas in Switzerland
Another Asian country has decided to simplify travel for Swiss citizens: from November 8, Switzerland will be part of the vaccine corridor program ( Vaccinated Travel Lane) from Singapore. The latter provides for the possibility of entering the country without quarantine for vaccinated tourists. Unlike Germany or France, for example, Switzerland was not part of it until then, which caused great frustration within the community of Swiss Abroad, as reported by the titles of CH Media