Aligning the stars for travel recovery

From left: Benson Tang; and Jeannie Techasiriwan

Government intervention to reopen borders and establish Covid-19 tests in place of compulsory quarantines, as well as travel stakeholders’ efforts to rebuild travellers’ confidence are needed to restart corporate and incentive travel, according to speakers on the Readying for the Road panel during November 17’s CTW Asia Pacific virtual conference.

Benson Tang, executive director of Corporate Travel Community, said: “We now have (good Covid tests) with fast results that do not require travellers to wait (several) days, only two hours will do. So why do governments still need to quarantine people for two weeks? This will kill all businesses.”

From left: Benson Tang; and Jeannie Techasiriwan

He added that “governments play a very vital role” in facilitating travel and tourism recovery, and many travel associations have been lobbying the government for more appropriate actions to reopen borders.

Tang emphasised that a backlog of essential corporate travel activities is building up, and demand to get back on the road remains strong.

Agreeing, fellow panellist Jeannie Techasiriwan, special events assistant director of Amway (Thailand), said the pandemic has failed to kill travel desire. Citing an example, Jeannie said she has “a happy problem” where an incentive trip for top achievers to Alaska in 2021 has attracted far more takers than pre-pandemic times.

“In the past, some participants, especially those who travel frequently, would rather take a cash alternative. But after 10 months of no travel activities, people want to (go on a trip to Alaska),” she said.

However, with travel logistics still a challenge today, particularly for large groups, Jeannie said Amway had to postpone the Alaska trip for 2,200 participants to 2022.

For now, Tang and Jeannie are hoping that the unique Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB), which kicks off November 22, would make an exemplary case study for other governments.

The ATB is open to all travellers and does away with quarantines by relying on pre-departure and post-arrival Covid-19 tests.

And as companies begin planning their return to corporate travel, which includes transient trips and overseas MICE trips, Tang emphasised the need for travel management companies and corporate travel managers to become information centres to allay travellers’ fears.

He noted that travel and tourism suppliers have done their part to establish health and safety protocols and new procedures to minimise contact for their customers, and are dependent on travel management companies and corporate travel managers to convey these assurances to their travellers.

Jeannie added that Amway would, more than ever, rely heavily on their travel agent network to provide real-time and accurate destination updates to help with future event planning and travel decisions.

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