Online champion, ATTIA, emerges to revive travel and spur recovery

On the web champion, ATTIA, emerges to revive journey and spur restoration
by Yeoh Siew Hoon,
in Distribution,

Shaped in 2019 to tackle restrictions all-around short-phrase rentals and electronic marketing, the physique has discovered new function with Covid-19 as it seeks to lobby governments in APAC to establish prevalent protocol for safe and sound journey these kinds of as a two-swap procedure for opening of journey corridors and protection and hygiene benchmarks in locations and inns. Yeoh Siew Hoon speaks to ATTIA chair Ang Choo Pin, a profession diplomat who joined journey to “change the way governments glance at tourism”. With ATTIA, he confident has a big job on his arms – to come across wider acceptance by a fragmented industry and to be viewed outside of a “big boy” lobby.

Ang Choo Pin: “There is an amplified will need for platforms to appear jointly for journey restoration. Our function is to glance at how to deal with the disaster and how to recuperate.”

You know an industry has appear of age when it demands an
association to champion its passions, or most likely it usually takes a disaster these kinds of as
Covid-19 to speed up its development and kickstart it into motion. Or most likely
it felt its passions were too specific and unique that they couldn’t be looked
right after very well sufficient by other journey associations.

What ever the rationale, say hello there to the newly-shaped Asia Journey Technologies Industry Affiliation (ATTIA), spearheaded by the big four on-line journey brand names, Expedia Team,, Agoda and Airbnb, to champion the passions of their sector which is envisioned to account for more than fifty percent of all journey bookings by 2022 (Phocuswright APAC Full and On the web Journey Markets Report), and that’s prior to Covid-19 struck.

Certainly, from staying an outlier section circa 1996 when the likes of
Expedia and were discovered, the section is now large sufficient to command
its have association to fight its battles. And let’s experience it – the mass migration
of shoppers on-line and the amplified familiarity with e-commerce equipment throughout
generations will with out doubt speed up the change to on-line in the location.

Post-Covid, the on-line journey space will no doubt prosper once again but
prior to that happens, journey demands to recuperate and that is what ATTIA would like to
support and facilitate.

In accordance to ATTIA chair Ang Choo Pin, the association was
really shaped in 2019 and the four events experienced been operating guiding the scenes
to suggest governments on restrictions all-around short-phrase rentals as very well as to
keep the electronic marketing agenda prime of mind among tourism authorities.

But together arrived Covid-19 which gave it the impetus to launch. “There is an amplified will need for platforms to appear jointly for journey restoration. Our function is to glance at how to deal with the disaster and how to recuperate,” explained Ang, who is also senior director, government and gorporate affairs, Asia, Expedia Team.

“One, we have to glance at the sustainability of the tourism sector – how to shield positions and livelihoods, how to tide tourism enterprises in excess of and, in the longterm, what expertise are necessary to change to the new ordinary. Two is the resumption of intercontinental journey in the absence of an conclusion to Covid-19. There will be extraordinary changes to our industry right after this and we want to get ready our associates for it.”

In March, jointly with the Asia Internet Coalition (Ang also chairs the AIC) and the EU-ASEAN Business Council, ATTIA wrote to governments throughout Asia, calling on them to appear up with steps to support tourism enterprises which experienced been difficult-hit by Covid-19. In that letter, it underscored tourism’s value to neighborhood economies by sharing these facts details gathered from WTTC. 

  • Journey & Tourism generates US$two,971b to APAC’s collective GDP, symbolizing ten{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} of the region’s financial state.
  • Journey and Tourism growth in APAC translated to more than 21 million new positions in 2019, which was more than fifty percent of all new positions made globally in 2019. As a subset, the economic opportunity of domestic journey in the location is huge: in 2019 domestic customer invest throughout APAC manufactured up 74{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} of total customer invest.
  • The T&T sector in APAC employs about 57.five million persons in 21 economies that make up the APEC discussion board. (Asia Nikkei)

Plainly, there is a ton at stake and it is important that not only neighborhood actions are necessary but bilateral and multi-lateral actions will need to be place in spot for the movement of persons and trade throughout borders in the location.

Excellent protocol is a two-swap procedure

ATTIA is recommending
governments adopt bilateral and finally, multi-lateral prevalent protocol all-around
testing procedures at airports, on arrival and departure. Ang explained the suitable
protocol would be a two-swap procedure – one on departure from residence port and one
on arrival again at residence port.

way, there is self confidence that everyone who will get on the airplane is free of charge of the
virus, there is no will need to be seated far from one one more and when you land,
there is no will need to be examined and no will need for quarantine,” he explained. “Then when
you return, you are examined once again.

“The crucial
is how can we get journey to resume even in the absence of a vaccine. What variety
of self confidence creating steps can we introduce? Of system, we’d be satisfied if a
vaccine is discovered and everyone is healthier but what can we do in the meantime? We
can not place journey on hold, we will need to journey, for business, to see family and

Ang explained
considering the fact that the letter was sent, it is been inspired by the response of governments
who have asked ATTIA for facts and ideal techniques. It is also been inspired by
ongoing talks amongst governments for bilateral journey corridors.

He cited the instance of Singapore and China, the initially journey corridor to be proven in the location, despite the fact that that protocol demands a four-swap procedure as very well as energetic monitoring of itineraries although in-vacation spot. “That is effective for business travellers who have a set itinerary but not for leisure travellers,” he explained, “but it is a fantastic initially move and we can master from individuals initially openings for business journey.”

Singapore and Malaysia have also established August ten as the target day to start out cross-border journey for some citizens and business travellers, subject to Covid-19 steps. Each countries have agreed to employ two strategies – the Reciprocal Inexperienced Lane and Periodic Commuting Arrangement. The Reciprocal Inexperienced Lane will allow journey amongst Singapore and Malaysia for vital business and formal reasons. The Periodic Commuting Arrangement will allow Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-phrase immigration passes for business and function reasons in the other region, to enter that region for function.

“We are inspired by these arrangements, and we recognize very similar mechanisms are staying talked over in China and South Korea,” explained Ang.

Singapore and Malaysia agreed to start out cross-border journey for some citizens and business travellers on ten August. (Image credit – Causeway connection amongst Johor and Singapore: Kinsei-TGS/Getty Photos)

“Confusion in excess of safe and sound journey protocol should be avoided”

He agreed there is lots of confusion all-around re-opening
protocol with various countries introducing various versions. “If you recall
right after 911, airport stability was the most pressing problem and various countries
implemented various benchmarks and it grew to become puzzling for the shopper. We
don’t want to see this confusion in a put up-Covid world – there is a will need for
various journey associations to align and function with governments.”

He explained ATTIA was reaching out to other journey associations
to see if passions and tips can be aligned. “For instance, we looked
at the WTTC safe and sound journey protocol, and they make a ton of sense and we are
socializing them with governments. Eventually, we will settle on a established of
benchmarks, just that it will choose some time.”

A profession diplomat, Ang is knowledgeable of the challenges of
firstly, aligning associations, every of which have their have agendas to progress
and territories to protect, and secondly, uniting them to lobby governments on
prevalent protocols.

“It’s about receiving the other particular person to see we are on the
exact same facet. It is in all our passions to expand the pie jointly, endure
jointly. Whether or not it is us or neighborhood journey associations, or PATA, or WTTC – it is
how to get persons travelling once again,” explained Ang.

Beyond airports, ATTIA is also wanting at protection and cleanliness protocol for accommodation. “Some governments have proven their have – like Singapore and Thailand – and some lodge groups have introduced their have. What is critical is there are benchmarks in spot to make shoppers feel self-assured, and that governments and inns function jointly.”

Accor is one of the lodge groups that has launched its have protection protocol with the Cleanliness & Avoidance ALLSAFE label. (Image credit: Accor)

OTAs are also approaching this in another way. At the recent WiT Digital on Japan, Rakuten Travel’s Yoshiyuki Takano spoke of how it experienced place jointly a list of 36 “hotel countermeasures” and that it experienced fifteen,000 inns with this information on its internet site as of July 1.

With his Expedia hat on, Ang explained that Expedia is not developing its have cleanliness benchmarks. “If a lodge has a specific established of protocol, we will place it on the home listing.”

A assertion from explained, “With protection and stability of utmost problem, is continually updating the support, which includes with regard to offering increased transparency to shoppers all-around cleaning and hygiene information when scheduling on our system. For instance, we are producing it less complicated for our associates to display screen their cleaning, hygiene and sanitization steps on their home page, this incorporates steps to support in social distancing, food stuff protection and neighborhood restrictions.”

Champion necessary to fight for specific passions despite the fact that “the distinction amongst on-line and offline is blurring”

One particular could argue why the will need for one more journey association
when there are previously so several out there, and could ATTIA’s passions have been
protected by existing associations?

Ang explained the four founding members felt the on-line journey
space was unique, sitting at the intersection of journey and tech, with specific
troubles these kinds of as facts privateness, ecommerce restrictions and Internet troubles. “We are
various from pure regular brick and mortar and it is an outlet for on-line
journey platforms to espouse their views.”

Acquiring explained that, he
acknowledges the distinction amongst on-line and offline is blurring with more offline
companies likely on-line, and this is envisioned to get even greyer in excess of time.
“People’s practices are switching,” he explained, referring to the changes in habits
Covid-19 has spawned.

Fundamentally,  he sees the division amongst offline and on-line as unhealthy and is knowledgeable of the suspicion with which on-line journey platforms are regarded by regular brick and mortar agents, a little something WiT has appear up against time and time once again in excess of its have evolution – troubles these kinds of as “technology usually takes away authentic jobs” and “online companies do not perform by the exact same tax rules as neighborhood agents”.

Ang explained these perceptions can be resolved as a result of schooling and collaboration. Citing the instance of Hong Kong wherever Expedia experienced confronted friction with neighborhood agents, he explained, “We begun reaching out to them to say if they labored with our world wide system, they could have access to our world wide inventory, and their shoppers would keep on being theirs. Now more than one in 3 journey agents are operating with us as affiliates and jointly, we are developing the pie.”

Worries going through ATTIA as it finds its feet in a switching surroundings

Incorporated in Singapore,
ATTIA is funded equally by the four founding members and there is a portion-time
secretariat. Ang explained the notion is to start out little, “get the function performed first” and
as these kinds of, it hasn’t supplied a great deal thought to its future scope and membership conditions.

Ang explained it is gained
enquiries by other on-line journey companies to check with if and how they can be portion
of ATTIA. “That’s encouraging, it demonstrates what we are performing resonates with
many others. We all will need to function jointly, we are not able to be safeguarding just our have

In conditions of who it might take into account
admitting as members, Ang explained, “We will glance at relevance and abilities – the
values of ATTIA are to keep factors basic, inclusive, regular and good. That
applies to the journey insurance policies we are inquiring governments to adopt.”

Claimed Ang, “At this stage in time, it is about receiving the
creating blocks in spot on a bilateral foundation, and multi-lateral foundation. If we
have a strong sufficient established of protocol, we could allow journey to resume safely and securely
and for persons to feel self-assured about journey.”

ATTIA is also urging governments in the location to “re-pay a visit to
visa facilitation and visa-waiver development lost in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Claimed Ang,
“Many countries have withdrawn and suspended visa steps these kinds of as visa on
arrival or visa free of charge status – and we are encouraging governments to reinstate
individuals steps because it is in their economic passions to have movement of

that journey restoration has to be initially domestic and then regional, it is important
borders be opened within ASEAN to facilitate intra-ASEAN journey which is these kinds of a
large part of the industry, and one hopes that ATTIA can perform a more
helpful position than many others prior to it, to champion the shaping of ASEAN into one
prevalent industry a great deal like the EU.

instance, the potential to cross borders with out passports or, at the pretty minimum,
could visa limitations be eradicated for expatriates dwelling within ASEAN if they
wish to journey within the location? Picture a future wherever ASEAN turns into its have
domestic industry just as the EU has grow to be.

acknowledges the challenges of pursuing an EU-like model for ASEAN supplied the
various political, social and economic concentrations of various countries within
ASEAN but if ATTIA is to make a tangible distinction and contribution to the
industry, outside of staying “just one more association furthering its have interests”,
then it demands to established its sights better and disrupt the association model just
as its founding members did to journey all individuals decades ago.

The largest obstacle going through ATTIA is of system its
acceptance by the industry at substantial and journey, on-line or offline, is exceptionally
fragmented. The four big brand name names might have clout with governments but will
it be viewed as more of a “big boy” lobby to push their agenda or a champion of
the wider industry? If it expands outside of the four, will it grow to be yet one more
association stymied by processes and various passions and get rid of the potential
to be nimble and agile, as their have tech enterprises profess to be?

What it has likely for it nevertheless is an industry in will need and
combating for survival and wanting for the proverbial “white knight” to help you save it,
and staying continually dissatisfied because of the cacophony of fragmented voices
out there. If ATTIA can verify by itself to be the beacon for at minimum the on-line
journey sector amid this pretty fluid and unsure surroundings, then its
inception is fantastic information.

Ang’s track record in diplomacy and politics will certainly be place to the exam in his new position as ATTIA chair. When I initially interviewed him in June 2019, he explained the rationale he joined journey was because he required to modify the way governments looked at tourism and that his one wish was “That governments glance at journey as opportunity activity changers in the way persons reside, as a force for fantastic, and be mindful of that.”

Properly, he’s undoubtedly discovered his calling. Now he has to get governments to help you save journey.

Highlighted picture credit: ArtMassa/Getty Photos