Monday, 27 September, 2021

Apec calls for regionally consistent framework for business travel

DUBAI: ASIA Pacific business leaders are calling for a regionally consistent framework to minimise the cost and complexity of resuming business travel when the Covid-19 situation allows.

It is part of a set of recommendations endorsed by the Apec Business Advisory Council (ABAC) during a virtual meeting on Tuesday and put forth by the ABAC Reopening Borders for Safe and Seamless Travel Taskforce, report agencies.

Led by Lam Yi Young, chief executive of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), the taskforce conducted a survey across all 21 economies in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec), drawing 305 responses from April to June.

Over three-quarters of respondents said a common framework for vaccinated travellers to reduce restrictions - such as removing quarantine - was the top measure Apec can implement to restore business travel in a safe and seamless manner across all economies.

This is followed by a harmonised regulatory framework and set of rules for quarantine and testing requirements, according to 70 per cent of respondents.

Over half called for interoperable systems using open, tamper-proof standards to recognise digital health and vaccine certificates.

These results follow related worries from respondents, with onerous quarantine and testing requirements a top concern for 91 per cent of respondents.

Being stranded overseas due to changing immigration rules that result in the sudden closure of borders was a close second raised by 88 per cent of respondents.

Meanwhile, 53 per cent are worried their digital health or vaccine certificates may not be recognised by the destination economy.

Among the pain points experienced by travellers during the pandemic, 83 per cent agreed that the quarantine period is too long, while 81 per cent said the costs incurred with quarantine is too high.

The survey was a follow-up from a dialogue on May 3 that involved discussions between senior government officials and business leaders from the trade and aviation industries on building a regional framework for border reopening, SBF said in a statement.

Mr Lam said businesses have given consistent feedback that business travel is essential to recovery and growth and that they look forward to the reopening of borders and resumption of travel in a safe and seamless way.

According to ABAC’s survey, 93 per cent said business travel is essential for building relationships with business partners; 83 per cent said it is needed for securing, negotiating and closing business agreements; and 77 per cent said they do so to attend business conferences or meetings.