Notes from 2020 Q2 Travel and Tourism Committee Call

Notes from 2020 Q2 Travel and Tourism Committee Call | May 29, 2020
Authors: Shay Wester, Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Steven Gunawan
  • The Travel and Tourism is one of the prominent sectors that US-ABC has been focusing on, not only at the committee level, but also at the Board of Directors level
  • US-ABC will come up with a roadmap forward based on the Board of Directors meeting in June 18
  • In 2019, the industry contributes to 12% of total GDP and 13% of overall employment in the ASEAN economy

Role of Tourism Industry in ASEAN

  • Travel and tourism industry are one of the key sectors that have been impacted the most by the outbreak. Over 135 million people visited the region in 2018 with 37.2% of the figure stems from the intra-ASEAN travelers
  • Moreover, many dependent households and communities relies on the industry for their source of income

Impact of COVID-19

  • According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, global travel could be adversely impacted by up to 25%. On top of that, 12-14% or 40 million jobs are at risk globally
  • Moreover, international tourist arrivals could fall by 20-30%, meanwhile the tourism revenue will be reduced by USD 300 – 450 Billion based on UNWTO projections
  • International arrivals in ASEAN have witnessed negative growth in Q1 and are expected to fall dramatically for the rest of the year:
    • Brunei Darussalam (Q1: -26%| 2020 est.: -52.5%)
    • Cambodia (Q1: -38%| 2020 est.: n/a)
    • Indonesia (Q1: -43%| 2020 est.: -68.96%)
    • Lao PDR (Q1: -17%| 2020 est.: n/a)
    • Malaysia (Q1: -40%| 2020 est.: -63.1%)
    • Myanmar (Q1: -28%| 2020 est.: -70%)
    • Philippines (Q1: -36%| 2020 est.: n/a)
    • Singapore (Q1: -44%| 2020 est. – 25%)
    • Thailand (Q1: -38%| 2020 est.: -63%)
    • Vietnam (Q1: -18%| 2020 est.: -69.5%)
  • Moreover, hotel occupancy in Q1 2020 in ASEAN as follows”
    • Brunei Darussalam: 23%
    • Malaysia: 40.3%
    • Myanmar: 21.1%
    • Singapore: 58.7%
    • Thailand: 51.5%
    • Vietnam: 20%

Response Measures by ASEAN Member States

  • Providing financial support to the most vulnerable groups of employees and MSMEs
  • Digital technology and innovation is also being leveraged to better address challenges and to ensure business continuity
  • Inter-agency coordination to combat COVID-19 is strengthened significantly during the pandemic
  • Capacity building and skill and reskill training programmes are also being intensified in ASEAN Member States
  • Social media campaigns to promote public health and security through various platforms
  • National recovery plans are also being prepared by the governments of the ASEAN Member States’ for the tourism sector

Joint Statement of the Special ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting

  • Information and transparency: to expedite information exchange on travel related health through the enhanced operation of the ASEAN Tourism Crisis Communication Team
  • Coordination: to intensify ASEAN’s National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) collaboration with relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies in health, information, transport and immigration
  • Bolster consumer and business confidence: to develop clear standards and guidelines for a safer and healthier work environment to protect our workers and communities
  • Post COVID-19 crisis recovery plan: to support the development of a regional recovery plan, focusing on health and safety, innovative solutions, marketing effort, travel facilitation with a goal to advance ASEAN as a single tourism destination

Recommendations for the Private Sector

  • Policy advice to NTOs to recover the business and minimize disruptions without undermining health priorities
  • To intensify partnership with NTOs in marketing campaigns and policy dialogues, given the paradigm
  • Leverage the use of ATPRS to enhance quality and mobility of tourism professionals in ASEAN
  • To share and recommend best practices to effectively control the spread of COVID-19 and develop “new normal” business modalities, including the application of digital technologies
  • To engage with NTOs officials in developing standards and guidelines for a safer and healthier work environment to protect our workers and communities
  • To prioritize necessary measures to boost consumers and business confidence with the focus on domestic and intra-ASEAN tourism
  • To engage with ASEAN NTOs and contribute in developing a post COVID-19 crisis recovery plan by providing inputs at the request or through the ASEAN Secretariat

Discussion between US-ABC Members and ASEC


View on international travel for the next 12 – 18 months if the pandemic still persists

  • ASEC conveyed that the ASEAN Member States explore possibilities to strike balance between health concerns and uplifting the travel and tourism industry. The officials are fully aware that given the strict travel ban, tourism industry will not be able to survive
  • A member company reiterated the importance to have mechanism for mutual collaboration between countries to conduct testing at the airports

Bilateral travel agreement in ASEAN

  • The AMS have been discussing opportunities to ease travel restrictions to countries with low risk of COVID-19 spread. Moreover, they are currently working on the guideline for standards for health and environment.
  • Moreover, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand have started to open up their domestic tourism sector.

Opportunities for collaboration for recovery plans

  • One of the key ideas is to utilize existing expertise of US-ABC members on digital technology to enable travel in ASEAN and also to conduct quick study on the impact assessment of COVID-19

US-ABC COVID-19 Task Force

  • The Council is currently initiating a COVID-19 task force as a cross-cutting initiative to provide thought leadership and in-depth analysis in ASEAN.
  • The committee will comprise of Board of Directors/ C-level executives from member companies.

Meeting request status

  • Brunei: received with acknowledgement
  • Cambodia: received with acknowledgement
  • Indonesia: received with acknowledgement
  • Laos: no updates have been received yet
  • Malaysia: upcoming meeting in June 2020 (Secretary General)
  • Myanmar: accepted, waiting for proposed date
  • Philippines: accepted, waiting for proposed date (Undersecretary)
  • Singapore: received with acknowledgment
  • Thailand: pending status
  • Vietnam: upcoming meeting in June 2020 (Vice Minister)
  • Member companies are encouraged to share company best practices to assure regulators.
  • Ensure virtual engagements with Tourism Ministers/NTOs help ASEAN regain confidence to reopen travel and tourism.
  • The Council will track recovery plans from NTOs and provide input.