As the coronavirus leaves economies reeling, the tourism industry will be among the first to recover, and its revival will spur the economic growth in South-east Asia, said the Federation of ASEAN Travel Associations (FATA).
FATA president Tan Kok Liang said in a statement that once tourism within the region recovers, it will quickly become the catalyst for the revival of other affected sectors linked to the industry.
“Ensuring that the travel and tourism industry is the first to recover would mean instant activation of a wide range of related micro-economies. The impact from the tremendous growth of tourism in (South-east Asia) will be an eye-opener; creating curiosity and branding opportunities in international markets,” Tan said.
For his part, FATA secretary general and Philippine Travel Agencies Association president Ritchie Tuaño said the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) for 2016 to 2025 remains their guidepost amid the pandemic, and beyond.
“We need to continue to position and brand (South-east Asia) as a single market destination. Then, within each member state, sub-regional destinations and circuits must be promoted,” Tuaño said.
FATA members will work with governments in the region to ensure that tourism survives the pandemic, while ensuring stakeholders’ readiness post-Covid-19, he added.
FATA said the potential of domestic tourism within South-east Asia, with its 622 million population, can match that of Europe, China, and the US.
Last year, tourist arrivals to the South-east Asian region hit 133 million, 10 million above ATSP’s projection. This shows the key role tourism plays in economies within the region, contributing at least two per cent to 14.5 per cent to each member’s GDP, FATA said.
Tan also urged ASEAN member states to strengthen cooperation in the sharing of information and exchange of best practices, in order to boost confidence of stakeholders and travellers.
He said the move “will further build resilience and prepare the region to effectively implement and manage sustainable tourism in the aftermath of a crisis”.