KUALA LUMPUR (July 28): The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) has called on ASEAN nations to work on an ASEAN Digital Covid-19 Certificate in preparation for borders reopening in the region.
In a statement, MATTA said member countries should work out a common and acceptable vaccine passport protocol to jump-start intra-ASEAN travel.
Noting that most ASEAN countries are fast tracking their national immunisation programmes, the association said it expects their borders to reopen soon.
MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said a uniform set of standard operating procedures must be in place to avoid confusion and anxiety, and to provide a seamless travel experience within ASEAN countries.
“Having such a certificate would be a practical solution towards validating passenger risk status before travel, ensuring the smoothest possible experience for air, land and sea travellers alike.
“It is essential to have such a certificate to support the reopening of safe travel. A well-coordinated approach would help avoid unnecessary stress and confusion for travellers, especially those travelling by air,” said Tan.
“Ideally, the ASEAN Digital Covid-19 Certificate will provide information of proof of vaccination, to show if a person holds a negative SARS-COV-2 test result, or has recovered from Covid-19,” he added.
To avoid duplication, such as checks by multiple operators — airlines, immigration, public authorities, and confusion, MATTA recommends a one-stop verification process prior to departure, involving coordination between authorities, airports and airlines.
Tan said member countries should ensure that the verification is carried out as early as possible and preferably before the traveller arrives at the airport.
Noting that the European Union (EU) member states have launched their EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate on July 1, Tan said ASEAN can learn and improvise from the EU if necessary to suit ASEAN travel requirements.
“The EU have gradually opened up their borders subject to standard operating procedures. ASEAN countries should do likewise to balance lives and livelihood. Intra ASEAN travel is crucial rather than depending on long haul travel or travel bubbles to revive the floundering regional tourism economy,” he added.