Online travel companies Agoda, Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia Group have come together to establish the Asia Travel and Technology Industry Association, with an aim to urge closer government-industry engagement to create consistent cross-border travel protocols.
Representing companies operating in Asia-Pacific's travel and tourism sector with a technology and innovation focus, the newly formed ATTIA believes that governments should work multilaterally and in close collaboration with each other and industry to unlock international tourism revenue in a safe and secure manner.
ATTIA chair Ang Choo Pin, who is also senior director, government and corporate affairs, Asia at Expedia Group, 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.”
Recommendations the association put forth 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.
Agreed and 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.
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.
In a statement, ATTIA urges governments to leverage the ability of its members, including some of the world’s largest and most experienced companies in the area of online travel and tourism, 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.
“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.