The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) has published a report that suggests that the Asean Secretariat should look to create a travel bubble for the region.
Singapore has been leading the way in the creation of Green Lanes and Travel Passes and Thailand has also been looking to boost tourist numbers. The numbers who have utilised these schemes have been very low however mainly due to the many restrictions that are still in place, not least quarantine, which has been shown to be a major obstacle in attracting additional tourists.
“Asean’s aviation and travel sectors are already reeling, and the economic impact could become devastating without a partial recovery of leisure travel.”
“Air travel bubbles represent a platform to support a partial recovery of the intra-Asean air transport market in 2021.”Restarting International Air Travel Within Asean. Via The Straits Times
Regional tourism and travel has always been significant with around 4 million people flying between the countries each month prior to the pandemic. Those numbers have fallen dramatically with most travel relating to repatriation or foreign workers.
The majority of pre-pandemic regional travel was for short periods, certainly not as long as the two week quarantine which is common globally.
Although vaccinations offer some hope for the travel industry, they are not the holy grail until the numbers of people receiving the vaccine in each country is at a high level.
The creation of a regional travel bubble, where quarantine would not be required through participating countries, would allow much of this regional travel to restart. It is likely that arrangements would need to be flexible enough to switch on or off individual countries as the number of infections changes in each country.
If these travel bubbles could be operated successfully then it may give confidence to allow travellers from outside of the region to quarantine in one country before travelling throughout the region. Many countries have stated that they will be targeting higher value foreign travellers in the near-future and many of these would travel to more than one country on their trip.
The Asean countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.
Photo credit David Emrich on Unsplash
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