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Asia-Pacific is emerging from lockdown

· Based on a comparison between May 2019 and May 2020 we are 97.2% down in number of international arrivals on a global basis.

· From 100 million to 197 million jobs in travel and tourism are at risk in 2020.

· It may take months and even years for a vaccine to be found, produced, and administered worldwide. The bottom line is we have to learn to live with the pandemic and drive our economy, and get people to travel again. Many organizations around the world, including the United Nations' World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), are looking to restart tourism, from air travel and airports to tour operators and hospitality sectors.

Several countries across Asia-Pacific are beginning to ease their lockdowns and gradually reopen.

In Thailand, domestic tourism has already started. There are currently 8 destinations in driving distance from Bangkok open to domestic tourists. In fact, some resort destinations are already sold out for the next couple of weeks. The next step will be regional openings. Regional flights and regional travel will start in mid July.

In India, international as well as domestic borders are closed, with some starting to reopen from this week onwards. The industry is expecting a huge domestic demand revival. In line with this, the Taj brand has promoted driving holidays within India, as a safe way to travel. 46.5% of Taj properties are open and some never even closed since the outbreak.

In Japan, the borders, both internal and external, are largely closed but the situation is improving. Hotels will start reopening around July. The state of emergency was lifted on June 1st. Residents are to stay in their prefecture until June 19th. More restrictions will be eased on July 10th. Domestic travel is expected to resume on August 1st.

Other countries may not reopen entirely initially, only some parts. For example, in Indonesia, the islands will open to tourists first. Regional and possibly international travel might be restricted to certain areas. There are currently discussions of corridors and bubbles within Asia. While it can be a good idea in theory it is not an easy one to implement, putting all the systems and procedures in place, control at airports (arrivals and departure), etc. Besides, travel should be inclusive, not exclusive.

Having the right health and safety protocols in place is imperative. People will trust brands they have faith in. The industry has the responsibility of instilling confidence in travelers. Destinations will reopen when they are ready to welcome and host tourists, in a safe manner. This is the only way to move forward.

By Anna Lee

Source: "ConnecTALKSAsia: Spotlight on Luxury Travel" Webinar


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