ASEAN countries have been told they must do more to align their border procedures or risk missing out on the upcoming travel boom.
Kelvin Lee, IATA assistant director member and external relations Asia Pacific, speaking at an EU-ASEAN Business Council webinar, said the lack of harmonised border measures, restrictions and procedures is a major cause of the failure to restart travel.
Lee said take-up of the IATA Travel Pass had been slower than expected. “Singapore has adopted it, the Philippines is talking about it, but none of the other ASEAN countries have done so.“
He said without digitalisation and common standards, travel across the region would be restricted. It was no good, he said, if a passenger’s Covid credentials were accepted by one country but not another.
“Once you have two sides accepting each other’s authorisations, that's where it brings real convenience and simplifies the entire travel journey for the passenger.”
Dr Le Quan Lan, assistant director ICT and Tourism, ASEAN Secretariat, said each ASEAN member country had to assess the risks for themselves. “We don't have a common framework for some sort of common risk assessment. That makes travel unpredictable.”
Dr Lee said he hoped “in a couple of months’ some ASEAN nations would have the confidence to reopen their borders.
Laura Houldsworth, director, APAC, Booking.com said travel volumes were going to accelerate sharply in the next two or three years.
“The travel and tourism industries need to be ready because the ramp-up in demand is going to be much faster than it has been previously,” she said.