Asia Travel Re:Set Issue #23 In Summary

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Here’s a 60-second speed-read of Asia Travel Re:Set Issue #23, published on 10 January 2021.

6 things we learned in Travel and Tourism in Asia Pacific last week included:

WHO COVID-19 Briefing, 08/01/2021

At present, 42 countries have commenced their COVID-19 vaccines programmes. Of these, 36 are “high-income” countries and 6 are “middle-income” nation. The WHO confirmed that it does not support the introduction of “proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for international travellers as a condition for exiting or entering a country or for travelling internationally.”

The Mega Nations: China & India

The planet’s two most populace nations have had experienced COVID-19 along contrasting timelines. Both, however, are significant producers of vaccines and have invested significant resources to develop, test and produce their own COVID-19 vaccines, and – in India’s case – manufacture vaccines for global pharma firms. China is targeting 50 million domestic vaccinations before Chinese New Year (12 February), and India’s Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute could well become the world’s largest makers and distributors of COVID-19 shots.

Japan & The Olympic Challenge?

Having been forced to delay the 2020 Tokyo Olympics until 23 July-8 August 2021, Japan does not want a second postponement. However, after announcing a month-long State of Emergency in Greater Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama – and with more prefectures likely to be included – a further delay or even cancellation is a real prospect. Japan has ordered enough vaccine doses to inoculate its 126 million population, but it remains unclear when a rollout will begin, or if enough countries would agree to participate should the Games go ahead.

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Asia Travel Re:Set: Charting the transformation of travel & tourism in Asia Pacific

Singapore Leads in South East Asia

On 30 December 2020, Singapore became the first ASEAN nation to receive a vaccine shipment. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received a Pfizer jab live on TV on Friday, and Singapore will prioritise medical, frontline workers and seniors aged 70 and over. It has sourced a combination of Pfizer, Moderna and Sinovac vaccines to provide a free inoculation to 5.7 million Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term residents by the 3rd quarter of 2021.

“Even if we reach a ‘herd immunity’ or ‘collective protection’, there will still be cases of COVID-19 – and there will be more virulent pandemics in future.” – Lawrence Wong, Minister of Education and Co-Chair of Singapore’s COVID-19 Taskforce

Indonesia & Malaysia Test Halal Vaccines

Both South East Asian countries are testing COVID-19 vaccines to ensure they comply with Halal regulations. Indonesia has approved China’s Sinovac, which will be manufactured in Indonesia by BioFarma. President Joko Widodo will receive his inoculation live on TV this week. Indonesia has set an aggressive target of vaccinating 70% of its 270 million population within just 15 months. Malaysia has experienced a surge of infections, particularly in the states of Sabah and Selangor, since October, and is expected to re-enter lockdown (or Movement Control Order (MCO), as it is officially known) this week. Local media reports that the MCO may endure for 6-12 weeks. Malaysia’s vaccine programme is yet to be published.

“The public will not be able to choose which Covid-19 vaccine to take.” – Khairy Jamaluddin, Malaysia’s Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation

Hong Kong Battles Winter COVID Wave

Hong Kong and Singapore were forced to postpone their about-to-commence Air Travel Bubble in November as cases started to rise in Hong Kong during early winter. Since then, the government has enforced tighter social restrictions and closed many facilities and outlets. A total of 59 infections on Saturday was the highest daily count so far in 2021. Hong Kong has secured shipments of the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, and plans to commence its inoculation programme in early February.

Alan Joyce, the voluble CEO of Qantas announced that Australia’s national carrier would not be able to meet its target of 80% of pre-pandemic domestic air capacity by March. Instead, the December cluster outbreak in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, and a renewed round of border closured between states, means the new target is June 2021.

“What we are seeing when the [Australian state] borders open is that people are travelling. It was a very rapid recovery… and we had started over 20 new domestic routes. However, this latest outbreak has probably set us back 3 months.” – Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas

This is a summary version of Asia Travel Re:Set Issue #23: “Vaccines, Vaccines, Vaccines: The Race is On!”

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