Online travel firms lobby governments

SINGAPORE, 15 July 2020: Newly formed Asia Travel Technology Industry Association encourages partnership and closer cooperation between governments and the travel and tourism industry to spur the recovery of the tourism economy in Asia.

ATTIA chair, Ang Choo Pin commented: “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, APAC was the fastest-growing region for travel (2019). Travel and tourism is a key pillar of Asia’s economic recovery. Travel & Tourism generating USD$2,971 billion towards APAC’s collective GDP, represents 10% of the region’s economy and growing by more than 5% year on year.

ATTIA believes governments should work multilaterally and in close collaboration with each other and industry to unlock international tourism revenue in a safe and secure manner.

It calls for a set of internationally recommended health and hygiene guidelines for the accommodation to bring clarity and build consumer trust and confidence.

It is asking for transparent criteria between governments and 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.

“We recognise and applaud early steps towards travel bubbles and ‘green/clean routes’ creation by some nations and states, but ATTIA champions further collaboration and transparency of health and hygiene requirements to enable governments and industry to plan forward with greater confidence.

The end goal is to make it safe to travel through a better understanding of protocols.

It asks governments to re-visit visa facilitation and visa-waiver progress lost during the Covid-19 pandemic, noting prior to Covid-19, the combination of visa facilitation and improved online connectivity helped spur travel demand in the region.

ATTIA encourages governments to leverage the ability of its members, some of the world’s largest and most experienced companies in the area of online travel and tourism, to engage in conversations to inform and guide forward-planning.

“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,” Ang concluded.

The Asia Travel and Technology Industry Association (ATTIA) represents companies operating in the travel and tourism sector in Asia-Pacific, with technology and innovation at their core.  Members include Agoda, Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia Group.