Travel bubbles within region, in countries to aid tourism revival


CREATING travel bubbles within the region and within Asia Pacific countries could help revive the tourism industry, according to the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO).

In its latest Analytical Note, AMRO said creating these regional tourism corridors or bubbles in the Asia Pacific region would help make up for the decline in Chinese tourists who used to boost tourism in the region.

“Tourism corridors or bubbles within the Asia-Pacific region and with Western economies, where Covid-19 risks are under control, as well as vaccinated travel lanes, could help ease the pain on the tourism industry,” AMRO said.

Domestic tourism corridors, meanwhile, can help maximize the already strong domestic tourism in Asia Pacific countries, including the Philippines where 86 percent of tourism revenues were wiped out by the pandemic.

AMRO said these should be accompanied by efforts to boost vaccination and the maintenance of health and safety protocols.

It added that adapting to Covid-19 also means a new normal for travel where vaccination requirements, virus testing, and high sanitation standards would be the norm.

Efforts to digitize will also play a major role in order to reduce touchpoints and enhance efficiency. This, AMRO said, will hasten the recovery of the
tourism sector.

“Against this backdrop, robust and coordinated policy actions would be critical in providing an enabling environment for the tourism industry to adapt to the new normal of living with Covid-19,” AMRO said.

AMRO, citing data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), noted that losses from international tourism and its ancillary sectors are estimated to have reached $2.4 trillion in 2020.

The analytical note also stated that based on the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), some $4.4 trillion worth of domestic tourism activities were also lost in 2020.

Further, international tourist arrivals plunged by 73 percent in 2020 and by another 65 percent between January and May 2021, as new Covid-19 variants and continuing movement restrictions forestalled any recovery.

AMRO said, however, that majority of tourism experts expect a rebound in international tourism in 2022, any return to pre-pandemic levels is not considered likely until 2023 or later.

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