Consortium launched to push coordination for cross-border travel in APAC

A host of online travel companies, including Agoda, Airbnb, and Expedia Group, have come together to form the Asia Travel Technology Industry Association (ATTIA), which aims to encourage closer cooperation between governments and the industry to create consistent cross-border travel protocols for Asia-Pacific’s tourism recovery.

ATTIA chair, Ang Choo Pin, said in a statement: “Movement of people is important to kick-start tourism and regional economies. The Asia region is prepared to lead the way globally in rejuvenating the travel economy post-Covid-19 pandemic.

“Currently, there is uncertainty and inconsistency around pre-travel and arrival protocols, as well as health and hygiene expectations across borders. This makes it hard for the industry to plan forward and ramp up quickly. A framework that articulates agreed criteria for cross border travel-flow in the region could help simplify a complex challenge for governments, industry and travellers.”

Prior to Covid-19, Asia-Pacific was the fastest growing region for travel, according to 2019 data. Travel and tourism is a key pillar of Asia’s economic recovery. Travel and tourism generated US$2,971 billion towards Asia-Pacific’s collective GDP, representing 10 per cent of the region’s economy, and growing by more than five per cent year-on-year.

As such, ATTIA believed that governments should work multilaterally and in close collaboration with each other and industry players to agree on a framework to facilitate tourism recovery in the region.

This could include a set of internationally recommended health and hygiene guidelines for the accommodation sector to set expectations for governments, bring clarity to industry and allow for implementation at scale, in order to build consumer trust and confidence in travel.

ATTIA also called for agreed and transparent criteria between governments and the industry when considering or planning for open borders and intra-regional ‘travel bubbles’, including a set of simple steps offering clear information, and which endorse rigorous pre-travel Covid-19 testing, and over time, agree on traveller vaccination evidence requirements.

While applauding early steps towards ‘travel bubble’ and ‘green/clean route’ creation by some nations and states, ATTIA championed further collaboration and transparency of health and hygiene requirements to enable governments and industry to plan forward with greater confidence.

In addition, ATTIA also urged a re-visit to visa facilitation and visa-waiver progress lost during the Covid-19 pandemic, noting prior to the crisis, the combination of visa facilitation and improved online connectivity helped spur travel demand in the region.

ATTIA also encouraged governments to leverage the ability of its members to coordinate conversations and as a resource for accessing consumer insights in the region and from global learnings, to inform and guide forward planning, and ultimately champion agreements to industry and a world of travellers.

Ang concluded: “If we work together, we can present a unified post-pandemic position on rigorous travel criteria for Asian nations on the global stage, unlock access to much-needed revenue and employment in the region, and ensure Asia’s digital tourism economy continues to grow and thrive for the benefit and well-being of its citizens.”

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