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4:15pm 03/10/2022
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October beckons!
By:Lee San

In the early autumn month of October in the northern hemisphere, the earth is dreamily draped in bright colors and the weather is cool and pleasant, where agricultural and fishery harvests abound.

Also in October the leaves begin to fall, making the month a perfect time for traveling.

I’m sure people in Japan and Taiwan will agree with me. That’s why many choose to travel at this time of the year to discover the charms of the earth, as it opens its arms wide to welcome you back after a long break. October is beckoning!

Even though I’m specifically yearning for springtime traveling, I nevertheless love the storybook-like romantic atmosphere of autumn more than anything else.

I therefore feel that Vladimir Putin’s plan to mobilize 300,000 troops which might have sent many young Russians jittery, is never a big deal at all to people like us.

In its stead, the announcement by Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida in New York that Japan had decided to fully open its borders unconditionally from October 11, is the real big news that we have been waiting for over the past three years or so, something which deserves to be celebrated in a big way!

Put it this way, the move shows that the coronavirus pandemic in Japan has finally come to a complete stop, and the people there can now look forward to better days ahead after the disastrous event.

That said, are the Japanese people really ready for the sudden influx of millions of foreign tourists? As I know, they are not just travelers from around the globe flocking into Japan to eat, stay, play and shop, but they might very likely paralyze the entire tourist industry there! To be honest, ordinary Japanese citizens are pretty resistant to such excessive “disruptions” from the aliens!

I’m not sure whether Taiwan is also doing something similar, kicking off various autumn packages to woo the tourists.

Coincidentally, Taiwan also made the arrangement at around the same time that beginning September 29, anyone traveling into or returning to Taiwan are only required to undergo 3+4 days of quarantine, no PCR tests required, and be entitled to full visa exemption.

As if that’s not enough, beginning October 13, the quarantine requirement is further simplified to 0+7 days, meaning zero mandatory quarantine, only seven days of self-quarantine will do. This means that Taiwan will very soon put a complete stop to its virus lockdown policy.

Following the announcement, Taiwanese airlines have instantly added 50 new flights each week to major destinations worldwide, trying to make as much money from their international guests as possible.

It is therefore not hard to deduce that indeed the travel operators on the island are doing their utmost to welcome the visitors.

Sure enough we are not going to be outdone by people, and have actually drawn up a series of themed Taiwanese itineraries in collaboration with Taiwan’s tourism bureau as well as Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association, among others.

You might ask what’s so great about Taiwan, and I’m telling you I really love the people’s sincerity, kindness and pure heart. What do you say?

As mentioned earlier, just as this coming October is going to bring some truly exciting news to the world, Hong Kong has already rushed in to declare to the world their new 0+3 quarantine requirement for all visitors with effect from September 26.

The only thing is, they are not allowed to dine in during their first three days in Hong Kong, which could be an anti-climax for foreigners lured to the cosmopolitan metropolis by its legendary food and fun.

Anyway, even the 0+3 ruling is already making many Hong Kongers excited, as they have almost gone crazy after being locked in for so long!

Chua Lam texted me right away: I’m all ready to take Hong Kong tourists to Malaysia!

The thing is, flight tickets out of Hong Kong are either hard to come by or are exorbitantly priced, a phenomenon I believe is the new normal of traveling everywhere in the world nowadays.

So far, other than China which has yet to open itself to tourists, South Korea is probably the only other country that still imposes online K-ETA visa and arrival PCR requirements, while Australia still mandates online ETA application.

Verily, such requirements are not very tourist-friendly. After Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan have opened up their borders and lifted their visa, quarantine and PCR requirements, the travel industry in South Korea and Australia is expected to remain stagnant and sluggish.

Perhaps South Korea has felt that it is missing out the reward of the bountiful autumn travel season that, I’m sure, they will announce to unconditionally lift foreign entry restrictions this October.

As for Australia, there are no signs the country will liberalize the ETA requirement soon. Could it be because of their chronic concern about foreigners overstaying? I have no way to tell, frankly!

In short, starting from October, we all can fly freely. So, have you renewed your passport yet?

Post-pandemic travel today is very different from what we used to know. We may need to be mentally prepared for something totally unexpected. For example, you might be told that your booking – be it for a flight, cruise, hotel, car rental, restaurant, or anything else – has been canceled, or that we are fully booked today!

And that’s not all! If you are traveling in Europe or North America, there is a 30% chance your travel plan will be disrupted by airport or railway strikes. You need to know that the trade unions there are so powerful that in the event negotiations between employers and employees become inconclusive, you could be hit by abrupt service disruption which can literally turn your travel plan upside down.

Additionally, do expect severe energy shortage in Europe this winter and make sure you are fit enough to survive the biting cold.

Fortunately, all problems are happy problems, as I always believe. Moreover, the great beauty of autumn is bound to melt your heart and dissolve all your anxiety!

(Lee San is Founder and Group Executive Chairman of Apple Vacations. He has traveled to 132 countries, six continents, and enjoys sharing his travel stories and insights. He has also authored five books.)

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Lee San
Apple Vacations

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