Among the media narratives to emerge from the early days of the coronavirus pandemic was the one about how much better Asia had been at stemming its spread than the West. In March, BBC News wondered “What could the West learn from Asia?” when it came to the Covid-19 crisis, while The Guardian newspaper mused about how Asian countries had “acted while the West dithered”. Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan were hailed for having kept cases low despite their proximity to mainland China. Overlooked in all of this was plucky little Macau , equally close to the original epicentre of the virus but with even fewer infections and no deaths. To date, our Special Administrative Region sibling has recorded just 46 cases, all of whom have recovered. Most Macau coverage focused on how much money it was losing from closed borders and closed casinos. Sure, when the slot machines went silent in the world’s gambling capital for 15 days in February it was a serious business – according to casino industry website GGRAsia, Macau’s gaming revenue declined 81.6 per cent year on year in the first eight months of 2020 – but the city’s swift action ensured not only that no one died from Covid-19, but also that it could begin to resume some semblance of normality ahead of many of us. And first on the agenda was the readmittance of tourists from the mainland. Sensibly, the city started small, welcoming at first only applications for individual visit scheme (IVS) visas from neighbouring Zhuhai, in August, before extending the arrangement to the whole of Guangdong province later that month. On September 23, IVS applications went nationwide, just in time for China’s “Golden Week” holiday, from October 1 to 8. GGRAsia reported that IVS applicants must provide a certificate issued within the seven days before arrival in Macau “proving freedom from Covid-19 infection”. That certificate is also required to enter any of the city’s casinos. Such stipulations don’t seem to have discouraged China’s travel-starved tourists (or game-hungry gamblers) from planning a visit, though. On September 24, English-language news site Macau Business reported that “searches for various tourism products in Macau have ‘skyrocketed’ by 500 per cent after the resumption of individual visas”, according to data provided by Trip.com, the online travel agency formerly known as Ctrip. At a live-streamed event to promote travel to the city co-hosted by the Macanese government, James Liang Jianzhang, the chairman of Trip.com, predicted that tourism would “recover by 80 to 90 per cent, but probably only by November or December”, reported Macau Business. Almost six million viewers tuned into the online event, but probably for the 150 million yuan (US$21.97 million) worth of travel coupons being given away rather than for the industry talk. However, perhaps Sheldon Adelson shouldn’t rejoice just yet. Also on September 24, website Macau News reported that only 47 per cent of mainland Chinese tourists who wanted to visit Macau were willing to take the nucleic acid tests required for the visa, according to a survey conducted by American broker BofA Securities. Also, it seems that not all of those searches translate into actual reservations. Speaking recently on Rádio Macau, Rutger Verschuren, the president of the Macau Hotel Association, said, “Although there is a lot of interest, unfortunately the booking pattern is very slow,” with hotel occupancy for Golden Week standing at just 10 to 20 per cent. Add to that the fact that it takes about a week for IVS visas to be issued and some bosses are reportedly asking employees not to travel, according to Macau News, and things aren’t looking all that rosy. In fact, Verschuren told Rádio Macau, “Right now, I don’t think we can call it Golden Week.” Bali is giving away free staycations to its residents Indonesia has come over all Oprah Winfrey and is offering more than 4,000 Bali residents the opportunity to enjoy a free staycation at resorts on the island, according to a Reuters report. The stays, which will occur between October 7 and November 27, will include local tours and participants are expected to post about their experience on social media to promote the “new normal Bali”. Of course, there’s a catch: guests will essentially be guinea pigs “to test out measures designed to keep visitors safe”. Fingers crossed, those measures are in good order. In Japan, a Gundam robot comes to life Entry restrictions to Japan are easing and a limited number of international visitors will be allowed in from October, reported The Mainichi newspaper on September 23. The drawback? They will probably have to stay for at least three months. Still, if you’ve got the time, money and endurance to survive the 14-day quarantine at a designated location, there is plenty to look forward to in the Land of the Rising Sun, including a new “life-size” Gundam robot. Originally expected to make its official debut at the Gundam Factory Yokohama in October, the date has been pushed back until later in the year because of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, footage of the 25-tonne, 18-metre-tall cyborg, which is modelled on an automated character from the Gundam anime series, has made its way onto social media. And it moves – although not of its own accord we hope.