HO CHI MINH CITY, 19 July 2021: Heritage Line, a leading
river cruise operator in Southeast Asia, targets restart dates in September
2022 to resume luxury river cruises in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
In its latest Covid-19 update and information posted in its
email updates to partners, the company confirmed cruises along stretches of the
Lower Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia should begin from 1 January 2022 using two
luxury boats, the Jahan and Jayavarman.
But as it stands now, borders are closed across Southeast
Asia, making it impossible to organise river cruises that cross borders between
Vietnam and Cambodia.
In Vietnam’s Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay, Heritage Line has
four ships waiting to resume cruises on 1 January 2022.
Travel to Laos has halted, making it challenging to predict when
river cruises will return to the country. Heritage Line is keen to get the
brand new Anouvong sailing commercially on stretches of the Upper Mekong River,
but the earliest dates are in September 2022.
The inaugural cruise on the new Anouvong was supposed to
take place in 2020. According to Heritage Line’s schedule, the ship has yet to
sail with paying passengers, and the first opportunity is a three-night sailing
from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai, 4 September 2022. Covid-19 closed Southeast
Asia’s tourism in March 2020, forcing companies to dry dock their river cruise
boats at homeports across the region.
Myanmar suffered a double whammy. Covid-19 infections are
out of control, and a military coup on 1 February 2021 led to the junta
declaring a state of emergency and unleashing a bloody crackdown against
protesters who called for the immediate return of the legitimate government.
Tourism stalled 18 months ago, and like most companies that have invested in
hospitality hardware in the country, Heritage Line has paused all activities in
Myanmar until 6 August 2023. Usually, the company offers cruises on the
Ayeyarwady and Chindwin rivers. The company has one vessel, the Anawrahta, in
Vietnam: Visas and visa-free entries has been suspended. Until further notice, international inbound flights are not allowed to carry passengers to Vietnam (except foreign experts, investors and diplomats). Outbound international flights are offered by selected airlines only.
Cambodia: Tourist visas (including visa-free, visa-on-arrival and e-visa) have been suspended. Only diplomatic and business visas are currently being issued. International flights to and from Cambodia are available but on a limited basis.
Laos: International borders are closed, and all types of visas are not being granted for all nationalities until further notice. International flights are suspended until further notice. Domestic flights are operating.
Myanmar: International flights to and from Myanmar are suspended until further notice, and tourist visas are not being issued until further notice.