At their most recent meeting the ASEAN member countries agreed on seven cooperation measures in the tourism sector to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19 in what is considered to be the sector hardest hit by the pandemic.
Angela Tanoesoedibjo, Minister Responsible for Tourism and the Creative Economy, represented Indonesia at the ASEAN Tourism Ministerial Meeting, called ASEAN Special Meeting of Tourism Ministers (M-ATM) on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Wednesday, April 29, 2020 in the evening.
The meeting resulted in the adoption of a joint seven-point declaration by the tourism ministers of ASEAN countries to strengthen cooperation in tourism, one of the economic sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.
- The Indonesian Minister of Tourism agrees to facilitate ASEAN coordination by speeding up the exchange of travel information, in particular that relating to health standards and other measures decided by ASEAN member countries to control the outbreak COVID-19, by strengthening the activities of the ASEAN crisis communication team in the field of tourism.
- Intensify collaboration between ASEAN national tourism organizations and other relevant sectors, including health, information, transport and immigration, as well as with external partners of the ASEAN, to jointly implement comprehensive, transparent and rapid measures to mitigate and reduce the impact of COVID-19 and other crises in the future.
- Tourism ministers should also strengthen cooperation on the exchange of information and best practices between ASEAN member countries, as well as with ASEAN dialogue partners to support the tourism sector.
- Cooperation includes the implementation of effective policies and measures to increase the confidence of internal and international visitors to Southeast Asia, including the development of standards and guidelines to improve the safety and health factors protecting employees and communities in the hotel and other tourism-related sectors.
- Tourism ministers also agree to support the development and implementation of the post-COVID-19 stimulus package, as well as measures to promote and market joint tourism to advance ASEAN as one and even tourist destination.
- The tourism ministers agree to accelerate the implementation of the micro and macro economy, to provide technical support and financial stimulus, tax exemptions, capacity and skills building, particularly with regard to digital skills of players in the tourism sector.
- Accelerate cooperation with ASEAN dialogue partners, international organizations and relevant sectors in order to build a strong Southeast Asia prepared to implement and manage effectively sustainable and inclusive tourism after the crisis .
Angela said Indonesia is committed with all ASEAN member countries to encourage a common vision to mitigate and revive the tourism sector, both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Several studies show that it will take at least five years for the tourism sector to return to normal conditions after COVID-19. But I see ASEAN much better than that, tourism in our region will recover faster, but only on one condition, by strengthening cooperation and collaboration, “she said.
ASEAN member countries report tourism activity down about 36 percent in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the same period in 2018 and 2019.
The number of international tourist arrivals has decreased by around 34 percent, and the number of rooms available is currently at a low level. In addition, the tourism and travel sector suffered from many cancellations.
ASEAN member countries have currently revised or corrected their target in terms of international tourist arrivals and turnover in the tourism sector.