(Media Release) Innovation, cross-sectoral collaborative efforts and multi-stakeholder public-private partnerships across ASEAN are imperative to the recovery of the tourism industry

(In the picture from the top row, left to right) 
H.E. Sandiaga Uno (Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy), Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid (Chairman of CARI), Jukhee Hong (Executive Director of CARI), Riad Asmat (CEO of AirAsia Malaysia), Mr William E. Heinecke (Founder and Chairman of Minor International PCL), H.E. Satvinder Singh (Deputy Secretary-General, ASEAN Economic Community), Hon. Yanty Rahman (Chair, ASEAN BAC 2021)

Kuala Lumpur, 27 July 2021 – CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy (CARI), in collaboration with its supporting partners the ASEAN Business Club, ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) and ASEAN-BAC Malaysia, hosted a webinar with the topic ASEAN Tourism Webinar 2021: Outlook and Pathways to recovery to dive deeper on the recovery of the tourism sector in ASEAN focusing on the most viable short-term and medium-term pathways that can help the industry regain its footing in tandem with existing regional work plans.

The dialogues featured a keynote presentation by H.E. Sandiaga Uno, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesia; H.E. Satvinder Singh, Deputy Secretary-General of the ASEAN Economic Community; Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Malaysia; William Heinecke, Founder and Chairman of Minor International PCL and the Honourable Yanty Rahman, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council Chair 2021. Moderated by Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, the Chairman of CARI ASEAN, speakers concurred that innovation and collaboration are needed to revive ASEAN’s tourism industry.

(In picture) Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, Chairman of CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy

1. Intelligent within-border risk management and mutually agreed standards will pave way for a regional recovery

“Achieving economic recovery, particularly in the tourism sector, in the covid world is like climbing up a greasy pole. No sooner have you moved up than you slip back. Countries that have been trying to reopen the tourism sector are suffering setbacks from the resurgence or new waves of the virus. This is even before, like in Asean, agreements have been reached on what should be the necessary content of mutually accepted travel wallets,” said Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid. 

He said that with the virus likely to become endemic, apart from intelligent risk management within borders, concurrently mutually agreed standards have to be agreed upon if the tourism industry and other forms of travel are not to remain frozen. Such travel bubbles can start between or among tourist destinations in the region and the recovery really has to get going as the virus is not going away any time soon.

(In picture) H.E. Sandiaga Uno, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesia

2. Innovation, adaptation and collaboration: Indonesia’s three-pronged approach to drive the recovery of the tourism industry

Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy (MoTCE) of Indonesia, H.E. Sandiaga Uno informs the audience that his ministry is implementing three main pillars for tourism recovery that will focus on innovation, adaptation, and collaboration. 

“With innovation, there will be new solutions and alternatives using technology assistance. Adaptation means the implementation of CHSE (Cleanliness, Health, Safety & Environmental sustainability) in the tourism industry to guarantee the tourist’s safety. And Penta helix collaboration is crucial to make sure relevant stakeholders are taking their part in the tourism recovery program,” said minister Sandiaga Uno.

“Indonesia is preparing the Bali Travel Buble in anticipation of Indonesia taking over the G20 chairmanship in 2021. Bali’s tourism industry has suffered four quarters of negative growth and we aim to achieve 80% of full vaccination rate on the Island and having less than 100 daily cases before the Island is open to visitors,” said the minister. 

(In picture from left) Mr. William E. Heinecke (Founder and Chairman of Minor International PCL),
H.E. Satvinder Singh (Deputy Secretary-General, ASEAN Economic Community)

3. Innovation and regional collaboration are key to rebuild the hospitality and tourism industries

“Navigating this pandemic has been like sailing into a hurricane, never knowing if or when the winds will die down. At Minor, we are no longer trying to put things back to where they were. Instead, we are trying to build, create and imagine the new ways of business beyond COVID,” said Heinecke. 

With Thailand launching Phuket as a sandbox for a quarantine-free tourist destination to vaccinated Thai and foreign travellers from July onwards and the rebound of tourism in Europe and China, William Heinecke, Founder and Chairman of Minor International PCL believe that the worst for the tourism industry may soon be over. However, the speed of vaccination will be a critical factor in how soon ASEAN regional travel can thrive again.

Concurring with the views of the other speakers, HE Satvinder Singh said that the pandemic has profoundly changed the landscape of the ASEAN tourism sector, and at the same time, created opportunities for innovative solutions to circumvent the challenges. 

“ASEAN tourism sector is firmly on the right direction towards a more sustainable and inclusive recovery. Collaborative efforts across countries and sectors as well as stronger multi-stakeholder partnerships are key for the successful recovery journey of ASEAN,” he said.

(In picture) Hon. Yanty Rahman, Chair of ASEAN Business Advisory Council 2021

4. Public and private sectors to join hands in formulating a recovery roadmap and build traveller’s confidence with end-to-end healthcare protocols

The Honourable Yanty Rahman remarked that the COVID -19 impact differs across industry sectors but has hit the tourism sector the hardest. Many enterprises particularly the MSMEs that depend on tourism have gone out of business or are currently hanging by a thread. 

“Despite the challenges of the transmission of emerging and more transmissible delta virus surge, it is crucial that the public and private sectors to work together “Sama-Sama” to formulate a recovery roadmap for the travel and tourism and build the traveller confidence by ensuring end-to-end compliance with healthcare protocols set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in support of the gradual revival of travel in the region so we could recover stronger together,” she said.

(In picture) Mr. Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Malaysia

5. Full recovery in travel demand possible by the end of 2022 with aggressive vaccination

Riad Asmat commented that with the tourism industry contributing over 15% of GDP in Malaysia alone, vaccines are key for protection and will play a strong role in supporting tourism and the economy to get back on its feet. ASEAN governments have been working hard on that and continuous collaborative policymaking to seize opportunities at the right time will maximise the potential of the region in the post-Covid world, not just for tourism but all other aspects including digital.

“We foresee a gradual travel and tourism recovery by the end of 2021 and through 2022 thanks to the accelerated vaccine rollout across our key markets in ASEAN alongside cheaper or faster testing and therapeutics which are not far off. Travel demand will rebound. By the end of next year we expect to be back to pre-Covid levels – and some, due to huge pent up demand for travel,” said Riad.

(In picture) Jukhee Hong, Executive Director of CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy

6. Finalise the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework to boost intra-ASEAN travel

Jukhee Hong, executive director of CARI,  who hosted the webinar pointed out that the tourism industry contributed to 14.3% of the region’s GDP and 13.7% of total employment in the region. In 2020, however, international tourist arrivals plummeted 80.5% and suffered the loss of 75.8% tourism receipts.

Intra-ASEAN travel that made up 36% of tourism arrivals in ASEAN before the pandemic with over 51 million visitor arrivals in 2019 might be the first tourism segment to be revived once herd immunity is achieved in ASEAN.

“The recent spikes in COVID-19 cases in ASEAN have delayed the reopening and recovery of the tourism industry. Notwithstanding that, the development of the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework should be concluded as soon as possible to facilitate essential business travels among ASEAN as ASEAN ramps up vaccination efforts,” she said.


About CARI
CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy (CARI) is an independent, transnational research institute dedicated solely to the advancement and acceleration of ASEAN integration. 

For more information, kindly contact:
Jukhee Hong, Executive Director

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