According to Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates, international tourist arrivals to Asia dropped over 80 percent year on year in 2020. Travel disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic into and between ASEAN countries have had a devastating impact on economies in the region. The travel and tourism industry contributes between 5 – 10 percent of the GDP for most countries in ASEAN and more than 20 percent for economies such as Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand. The travel and tourism sector also employs 42 million people across the region. Therefore, it is clear that reviving travel will be a considerable contribution to economic recovery in ASEAN.
However, travel will not look the same as it did pre-pandemic. There will inevitably be new requirements around verifying health records, testing, and quarantine procedures. As testing capacity and vaccination rates increase, governments will have greater flexibility to design travel schemes that allow for a calibrated and safe opening of borders.
To discuss considerations of a new travel ecosystem, the US-ASEAN Business Council Travel Re-Opening Roadshow Series aims to assist ASEAN economies in achieving controlled, safe and sustainable resumption of travel.