South-East Asia (SEA) has much to offer with the inherent diversity in terms of peoples, lifestyle, culture, religion, and culinary experience, together with the rich natural landscape and deep historical heritage. According to the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), the tourism sector is projected to reach US$222.8 billion in 2027, which makes up 5.3% of the total GDP for the region. Since tourism is one of the main growth-generating sectors for the region, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must remain a single power in growing and developing the sector. Even with the impending vaccine roll-out, the travel and tourism industry is not likely to bounce back anytime soon.
According to UNWTO, it will take three years for the industry to reach its level in 2019, and it still depends on how good the vaccine mobilization will be. Nonetheless, domestic tourism, digital tourism, and intraregional travel offer the industry a way out of the slump and gradually recoup its losses while waiting for the vaccines to work and for pre-COVID normalcy to return. To implement a sustainable tourism development and recovery plan, ASEAN governments could use the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Recovery of tourism and future sustainable development for countries is only possible with proactive policies in place.
This forum aims to debate the readiness to face potential challenges and opportunities of ASEAN in the post-vaccination period to make tourism resilient. Challenges such as lack of tourists’ confidence, loss of jobs, closure of hotels, and resilience of tourism businesses and opportunities such as dynamic tourism products, vaccine visa or health passport, travel bubble and domestic tourism shift are the key themes to be explored in this forum.