Jakarta. Indonesia has pushed for a travel bubble in Southeast Asia to start in the first quarter of next year as the country seeks to rejuvenate its tourism sector that has been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) is expected to announce the Asean Travel Corridor Arrangement (TCA) Framework as the countries meet virtually for the 37th Asean Summit on Thursday. The association has been working on the plan since Indonesia submit the framework proposed in the previous summit last June.
"I warmly welcome that at this summit we will issue an Asean Declaration on an Asean TCA Framework," President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said when delivering a speech in the Summit plenary meeting from the Bogor Presidential Palace, West Java on Thursday.
Jokowi encouraged the Asean Coordinating Council and Sectoral Bodies to move quickly to establish temporary fast lanes and health protocols on departure and arrival, use integrated digital platforms in the region, determine port of entry, and strict health protocol provisions.
"I hope the Asean TCA can be operational in the first quarter of next year. The arrangement will raise optimism that our economic activities can be rejuvenated gradually by the disciplined application of health protocols. Our people cannot wait any longer. They want to see our region gets up immediately," Jokowi said.
Indonesia currently has a travel corridor agreement with Singapore, allowing eligible travelers to make business or official trips between them.
Southeast Asia counties are the biggest source of Indonesia's foreign tourists in 2019. More than 6.18 million, or 38 percent of total travelers visiting the archipelago last year, were coming from Southeast Asia countries, data from the Central Statistics Agency showed.
This year, only 3.56 million foreign tourists visited Indonesia in the January to September period, down 71 percent from 12.10 million visitors in the same period last year.