Kuala Lumpur 28 July 2021: The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) has called on ASEAN governments to work on an ASEAN Digital Covid -19 Certificate in preparation for borders reopening in the region. The ASEAN member countries’ government should work out a common and acceptable vaccine passport protocol to jump-start Intra-ASEAN travel. ASEAN, comprising 10 countries in South-East Asia, has a population of about 660 million people.
MATTA foresees that international borders should be reopened soon as most ASEAN countries are fast tracking their national immunisation programmes for their people.
MATTA President, Datuk Tan Kok Liang, said that a uniformed set of standard operating procedures must be in place to avoid confusion, anxiety and provide a seamless travel experience within ASEAN countries. He cited that IATA travel pass and WHO vaccine passports to facilitate international travel should be considered by ASEAN countries along with our own ASEAN Digital Covid-19 Certificate, towards a joint collaborative effort by ASEAN member countries’ government.
“Having such a Certificate would be a practical solution towards validating passenger risk status before travel, ensuring the smoothest possible experience for air, land and sea travellers alike. It is essential to have such a Certificate to support the reopening of safe travel. A well-coordinated approach would help avoid unnecessary stress and confusion for travellers, especially those travelling by air.
“Ideally, the ASEAN Digital COVID-19 Certificate will provide information of proof of vaccination, to show if a person holds a negative SARS-COV-2 test result, or has recovered from COVID-19.”
Tan opined that reaping the full benefits of the ASEAN Digital COVID-19 Certificate will require the harmonization of the verification protocol and practices amongst ASEAN member countries.
To avoid duplication, such as checks by multiple operators – airlines, immigration, public authorities and confusion, MATTA recommends a 'one-stop' verification process prior to departure, involving coordination between authorities, airports and airlines.
ASEAN Member Countries should ensure that the verification is carried out as early as possible and preferably before the traveller arrives at the airport. This should ensure a smooth travel process and experience for all involved, said Tan.
Tan added that EU Member States have launched their EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate on July 1. We can always learn and improvise if necessary to suit ASEAN travel requirements. As a region, ASEAN should not be left behind but to push forward aggressively for our own ASEAN Digital Covid-19 Certificate.
“Tourism is one of the key economic drivers of ASEAN countries. The EU have gradually opened up their borders subject to SOPs. ASEAN countries should do likewise to balance lives and livelihood. Intra ASEAN travel is crucial rather than depending on long haul travel or travel bubbles to revive the floundering regional tourism economy".
DATUK TAN KOK LIANG PGDK, M.A Tourism, CA (M), FCTIM, CHA
Term 2019 – 2021