ASEAN member nations mostly moving towards tourism resumption

ASEAN NTOs are pining for speedy and massive vaccination, booster shots and uniform vaccination certificates, regarding them as the best strategies for tourism recovery across the region, it emerged at the Philippine Tourism Forum late-August.

Oliver Chong, Singapore Tourism Board executive director, marketing planning Oceania, saw potential recovery from some longhaul markets taking place first simply because of vaccination rates in places like Europe and the US. However, it is still hard to predict when the borders in South-east Asia, China, North Asia and Australia will open, he remarked.

ASEAN Economic Community’s Satvinder Singh said the ASEAN tourism recovery is not a one-size-fits-all strategy

Chong said Singapore will begin her Vaccination Travel Lane on September 8, allowing travellers from Germany and Brunei to come for leisure, business and events without quarantine but subject to swab tests before and upon arrival, and on the third and seventh day of their 21-day stay.

Malaysia will reopen Langkawi for domestic tourism in mid-September with very strict procedures in place. Langkawi will need to arrive at phase four of the National Tourism Recovery Plan to qualify for an international tourism bubble pilot that is being formulated, said Yasmeen Yasim, senior director, tourism policy and affairs division, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia.

Meanwhile, over in Indonesia, there are plans to reopen a small part of Bali – Nusa Dua, Sanur and Ubud – and northern part of Bintan to international tourism, revealed Noviendi Makalam, policy analyst, Mininstry of Tourism, Creative Economy, Indonesia.

Vietnam will pilot a vaccine passport programme for international visitors to Phu Quoc island towards the end of 2021, said Tran Phu Cuong, director general, international department, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

Across the border, Cambodia intends to reopen some destinations towards end-2021, as the kingdom is one target with the national vaccination programme, shared Try Chhiv, director of International Cooperation and ASEAN Department, Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia. At press time, over 90 per cent of the population is now inoculated, and a booster shot is being rolled out. Herd immunity is expected to be achieved by end-October or early-November.

In the Philippines, the National Tourism Development plan has at least three Covid-19 impact scenarios – mild, harsh and severe, but Warner Andrada, Philippine Tourism Departments’ officer in charge, office of tourism development, planning, research and information management, shared that these are subject to further calculation each time the government changes the quarantine levels of destinations every two weeks or so, affecting tourism business and travel movements.

Stressing that the ASEAN tourism recovery is not a one-size-fits-all strategy, Satvinder Singh, deputy secretary-general for the ASEAN Economic Community, noted that some member states reported a sharp decline of almost 90 per cent in international arrivals in 1Q2021, compared to 2020’s 80.1 per cent across the region. ASEAN region suffered a 75.8 per cent loss in tourism receipts last year.

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