Jokowi eyes Asean travel corridor

President Joko Widodo has urged South-East Asian countries to speed up plans to create a regional travel corridor to help revive tourism and speed up a recovery from the economic damage of the pandemic.

Citing UN and World Trade Organisation data, Joko said yesterday that the level of restrictions in South-East Asia was the highest in the world.

With coronavirus cases in the 10-member Asean now declining, those limits should be eased to allow people to travel more freely, he said.

Speaking at a regional business forum, Joko urged immediate adoption of a regional travel corridor, a concept initiated by Indonesia in 2020, that would include faster immigration lanes, recognition of vaccine certificates and standardised health measures for departure and arrival, among other things.

“After 20 months of facing the daunting Covid-19 pandemic, we now see a light of hope.

“In the past week, Covid-19 cases in Asean fell by 14%, far exceeding the global average, which fell by one per cent,” he told the forum held ahead of a three-day Asean leaders summit, which starts today.

“With the Covid-19 situation getting more under control, these restrictions could be eased, mobility could be relaxed, while also ensuring that it’s safe from the risk of the pandemic.

“If all Asean countries immediately facilitate the safe mobility of people, the wheels of economy shall soon run again,” he said.

Intra-Asean travel typically accounts for around 40% of travel in the region and is key to reviving tourism in the region.

Some countries, including Thailand, are cautiously moving to reopen to international tourism.

Indonesia re-opened its holiday resort island of Bali to foreign tourists this month after more than 80% of its population was fully vaccinated.

Joko said the government would gradually open up other areas in the country where the vaccination rate exceeded 70%.

Indonesia so far has fully vaccinated about a quarter of its people. — AP

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