Topic: Improving the Security and Sustainability of Tourism in Southeast Asia
Working Language: English
Delegation: Double Delegation (16 Delegations in total, including 3 Observer Delegations)
Rules of Procedure: Standard Model ASEAN Meeting Rules of Procedure
Introduction to Committee and Topic:
In 2020, the travel and tourism industry contributed just over USD$180 billion to the GDP of Southeast Asian countries, falling from an unprecedented high of USD$393 billion in 2019. Travel restrictions and lockdowns enacted during the pandemic have significantly impacted the industry and its subsectors including Aviation, Hospitality, Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions (MICE), Eco-tourism, etc.
The introduction of Vaccinated Travel Lanes by Singapore and Malaysia and the Sandbox Project by Thailand have sparked optimism over the resumption of travel in the Asia Pacific regions. The exemption of quarantine to vaccinated travelers from countries like South Korea, Japan, Australia, etc. has made tourism a viable option, signaling a start forward towards normalcy. Thailand’s Sandbox Project has also kickstarted travel to Phuket, its most popular tourist destination, providing a coordinated pathway towards the further relaxation of restrictions.
Despite progress in bilateral cooperation efforts to restart travel, multilateral efforts to coordinate safe travel in the region have been stumped due to differing domestic policy considerations. China’s adoption of a “Zero-Covid Strategy” approach, stricter border control in countries like the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Brunei differ from the “Co-existence Strategy” adopted by countries including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea. The emergence of the heavily-mutated Omicron variant has also led to the tightening of restrictions, with Singapore suspending the sale of Vaccinated Travel Lane flight tickets.
The pandemic also provides a pivoting point for travel in the region. Solutions to improve ASEAN as a single tourism destination have been stumped by the pandemic while efforts to make tourism more sustainable have been complicated. Tourism remains to be a dynamic industry for the region, and a crucial aspect of regional-level multilateral cooperation.
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