Air corridors could offer pathway to rejuvenate national tourism industry

Update: 16:39 | 01/06/2020
The New Straits Times recently published an article by author Zaidi Isham Ismail discussing the prospect of restoring Malaysia's tourism industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the author said that Malaysia could apply the form of "air travel" with ASEAN member states such as Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand in the near future.
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Without a doubt, COVID-19 had unleashed havoc all over the world and one of the worst affected sectors is the tourism and travel industry. However, a beacon of light had possibly shone on the industry with the advent of the travel "bubble." Some call it "travel corridors" while others name it "air bridges."

The bubble or corridors denotes a safe or a protected perimeter between two travel destinations or countries or states already declared as green zones ready to receive tourists which is set to help the tourism sector recover. Already there are bubbles being mooted between Australia and New Zealand and between South Korea and 10 territories in China, the article said.

Perhaps in Malaysia, the obvious and nearest travel bubble is with Singapore. Granted the situation in Singapore is extremely volatile right now but it only involves foreign workers while the rest of the population is relatively COVID-19 free.

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According to the author, perhaps the two countries could consider setting up their very own travel bubble. Subsequently, this concept could be expanded to the rest of ASEAN such as Vietnam and Thailand which are also headed towards green zone status.

But will this travel bubble concept work? Ultimately for the initiative to work, the essential requirement is trust between countries. Safe travel corridors also require the cooperation of multi agencies.

This includes the health ministries of both nations, the immigration, customs, airport authorities and the tourists themselves who must be honest in their health status backed by health certificates. Everybody must practice the standard operating procedures such as the social distancing, hand sanitisers and face masks.

Participating partners must also have standard operating procedures between them involving hotels, restaurants and tourism spots. The economies of nations are fledgling and the prospect of a COVID-19 vaccine is still far away, the author added.

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(Source: New Straits Times)