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ASEAN tourism unites to fight Covid-19


SINGAPORE, 7 May 2020: ASEAN’s tourism ministers have signalled they will establish standardised health declarations and operating procedures for the handling of public health emergencies while sharing and bolstering health preparedness within the 10-nation bloc.

During a teleconference session organised by Cambodia for the 10 ASEAN tourism ministers, they agreed to adopt standardised health ratings that would encourage travel while assuring travellers that the region would provide a common set of standards to assess the health status of travellers. It could lead to the creation of a “green lane” that would allow the region to safely resume travel while adhering to a common standard around the region.

Tourists wearing a protective face mask amid fears of the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus walk at the Pyramide du louvre area on February 28, 2020 in Paris. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

ASEAN tourism ministers reiterated their commitment to build and promote Southeast Asia as a single destination. Brunei’s Minister Dato Ali Apong identified that the ease of airline connectivity was the region’s major strength helping to draw many travellers to this region who take in the sights of more than one country on each trip.

Once the Covid-19 crisis is contained, the member countries will need to regroup and initiate joint marketing and promotional activities, to build awareness of the region as a top-of-mind destination in preparation for recovery.

 They will also need to reduce barriers for travel and streamline visa processes and requirements.

“When we are ready to resume travel, the landing rights of each ASEAN Member State and dialogue partner should be reinstated, and we should open seaports and land check-points promptly, in order to restore connectivity to the region, which will be essential for economic recovery,” said Singapore’s Minister of Industry and Trade  Chan Chun Sing.

The minister called for the adoption of e-visas, digital passports and contactless immigration processes and payment systems to facilitate travel within the region.

“Tourism will change forever, but it will never disappear, for we as humans crave social interactions and new experiences. This crisis brings challenges and also new opportunities for us to reimagine tourism in a unique and sustainable way,” the minister concluded.

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