ASEAN Tourism Research Association (ATRA) co-organised with Taylor's University, Malaysia, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand and Universitas Pancasila, Indonesia, to host a successful virtual Forum entitled "Can Travel Bubble Boost Tourism in ASEAN?". ATRA and partner universities have been actively organizing tourism discourse series to bring together industry experts towards critical debate on contemporary developments of post pandemic travel pattern. The keynote was delivered by Prof. Dr. Neethiahnanthan Ari Ragavan, President of ATRA and Executive Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences and Leisure Management. The forum was moderated by Dr. Puvaneswaran Kunasekaran, Senior Lecturer from Taylor’s University, School of Hospitality, Tourism and Events and Honorary Treasurer, ASEAN Tourism Research Association (ATRA).
Key representatives from the Hospitality and Tourism sectors were invited to share their views. Esteemed panel members comprised of Mr. Eddy Krismeidi Soemawiaga, Deputy President of ASEANTA; Mr. Uzaidi Udanis, President of Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (MITA); Prof. Datuk Seri Dr. Victor Wee, Professor from Taylor’s University and Secretary-General of ATRA; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pornpisanu, Dean of Prince of Songkla University and Board Member of ATRA; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Devi Kausar, Dean of Universitas Pancasila and Board Member of ATRA and Ms. Kristina Stosic, Asst. Dean of International Collaboration Development, Prince of Songkla University.
Prof. Dr. Neethiahnanthan has urged the policy makers in the region to relook at travel bubble implementation mechanism. He shared, “The travel bubble initiative in ASEAN looks good on paper but countries are deemed to be sceptical to open their borders caused by the recent spike of cases especially in Vietnam and Indonesia. Creative and dynamic policies must be designed and implemented by the governments to save the industry”.
Generally, the speakers stressed that travel momentum is very slow now mainly due to the confidence level of the tourists. This situation is expected to be back to normal once the vaccine is found and international borders are reopened. Respective country in ASEAN should now promote domestic tourism to keep the industry going. Implementing sustainable tourism will ensure the industry to be resilient in the era of uncertainty. Scientific debate and understanding of the current scenario is essential towards effective policy implementation.