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Tourism to drive the economy of ASEAN countries

Tourism sector will be the driving force of the ASEAN economic community as the ASEAN Tourism Ministers reaffirmed at their Eleventh Meeting (11th M-ATM) on 21 January 2008 in Bangkok in conjunction with the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2008 (ATF 2008). The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Dr. Suvit Yodmani, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Thailand and co-chaired by H.E. Mr. Hoang Tuan Anh, Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Viet Nam…

Tourism sector will be the driving force of the ASEAN economic community as the ASEAN Tourism Ministers reaffirmed at their Eleventh Meeting (11th M-ATM) on 21 January 2008 in Bangkok in conjunction with the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2008 (ATF 2008). The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Dr. Suvit Yodmani, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Thailand and co-chaired by H.E. Mr. Hoang Tuan Anh, Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Viet Nam.

The Meeting was formally opened by H.E. Mr. Paiboon Wattanasiritham, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand. In his opening remarks, he emphasized the importance of tourism sector as key success indicator in realising ASEAN Economic Community. In this regard, he was pleased with the progress of implementation activities in ASEAN tourism sector including its integration with transport sector.

Preliminary reports demonstrate that in 2007 ASEAN attracted more than 60 million visitors, reflecting an increase of more than 8 per cent. Intra-ASEAN travel continued to be the main source market with 43 per cent of total visitor arrivals.The Ministers were confident that in spite of the challenges posed to tourism, the ASEAN region will continue to be resilient and to achieve good growth.

The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the overall vision of ASEAN Economic Community. As one of priority sectors for Integration, the Ministers emphasized the need to accelerate the progress of the Roadmap for Tourism Integration so as to further strengthen ASEAN’s appeal as a single destination. They acknowledged the progress achieved in the following areas: ASEAN joint promotion, tourism manpower, facilitation of travel, cooperation in crisis communications, quality assurance and cooperation with international organizations.

ASEAN Joint promotion

The Ministers were pleased to note the progress of ASEAN Tourism Joint Promotion, especially on the activities of the ASEAN Tourism Promotional Chapter (APCT) in Sydney and Seoul as cost-effective tourism promotion activities and taken note also of the preliminary activities done by APCT in Shanghai. The Ministers tasked the Senior Officials to continue and expand the exercise in other major international source markets such as China, involving various tourism events and activities, including the involvement of the private sector through the ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA). The Ministers also welcomed the decision of the NTOs to support the promotion of the Visit ASEAN Pass (vap!).

The Ministers noted the completion of the Impact Assessment Study of Visit ASEAN Campaign and encouraged the NTOs to strengthen the links with the tour operators to further explore and expand the potential of the major source markets.

Furthermore, the Asean Tourism Ministers welcomed the signing of the MOU on Establishing the ASEAN-Korea Centre in Seoul to further invigorate tourism between ASEAN Member States and Republic of Korea (ROK).

The Ministers thanked the ASEAN-Japan Centre for its support in promoting ASEAN tourism, particularly on promotion of Visit ASEAN Campaign activities in Japan and Training Program for ASEAN travel trade conducted in 2007.

The Ministers noted the Singapore’s proposal to hold the 3rd East Asia Week in 2008 to promote, among others, cooperation among youths, arts and culture, awareness about East Asia cooperation and people-to-people bonds.

Promoting ASEAN’s tourism investment opportunities will further expand and spread tourism benefits in the region, the Ministers applaud the success of the holding of the Second ASEAN Tourism Investment Forum (ATIF) on 21-22 September 2007 in Bali, Indonesia and agreed on the recommendation made by the Forum to promote multi-country tourism that focuses on tourism clusters and cultural corridors based on mutual heritage, history and culture. The Ministers were pleased to note on the confirmation of the Philippines to host the Third ATIF in July 2008 in Manila.

Tourism Manpower

In enhancing the readiness of the Member States in adopting the Mutual Recognition Arrangement that would eventually facilitate the mobility of tourism professional in the region based on the certificate, the Ministers acknowledged the finalisation of the Capacity Building for ASEAN Tourism MRA and the Development of Common ASEAN Tourism Curriculum Projects. The Ministers thanked the Government of Australia through ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Programme – Regional Partnership Scheme (AADCP-RPS) for the technical assistance provided through these projects. The Ministers noted the progress of the finalisation of the Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals and tasked the NTOs to finalize the principles of the Agreement for eventual signing at the earliest possible opportunity, in time for implementation by December 2008.

Facilitation of Travel

The Ministers were pleased with the progress of the ASEAN Senior Transport Officials Meeting (STOM) and NTOs joint activities for air travel and facilitation of land travel to further facilitate the movement of tourists in the region. As achieving the ASEAN Open Skies Vision will provide a tremendous boost to travel into and within ASEAN, the Ministers urged the ASEAN Transport Ministers to accelerate the finalization of the ASEAN Multilateral Agreement on Air Services at the earliest possible opportunity. The Ministers also welcomed the decision of the Transport Ministers to expand the Roadmap for Integration of Air Travel Sector (RIATS) to implement the ASEAN open skies policy by 2015 as part of the ASEAN Single Aviation Market. In pursuit of open skies, the Ministers vigorously encouraged ASEAN Countries to implement open skies between capital cities and to actively pursue air liberalisation between secondary cities.

The Ministers were satisfied with the progress of the Cruise Working Group activities in further promoting ASEAN cruise tourism in several international events such as the launching of the ASEAN Cruise website at Seatrade in March 2007 in Miami and promoting ASEAN cruise tourism at China International Travel Mart 2007 in Kunming. The Ministers welcomed the decision of the Senior Officials to expand the coverage of the Cruise Working Group to also cover regional and river cruises.

Cooperation in Crisis Communications

The Ministers noted the latest regional situation on Avian Influenza, Haze and Earthquakes that may affect tourism in the region and urged the ACCT to continue the training to ensure the readiness of all Member States in dealing with crises that may impact tourism. The Ministers were pleased with outcome the UNWTO Training on Avian and Human Influenza Simulation attended by ASEAN Member States held on 24-25 July 2007 in Jakarta that focus on crisis management issues rather than crisis communication.

Quality Assurance

The adverse effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and changing weather patterns would have direct impact on tourist destinations. In ensuring the quality and sustainable development of tourism in the region as well as taking preventive actions for future effects, the Ministers stressed the need for enhancing the role of tourism sector through comprehensive activities in the area of tourism standards at the national and regional level.

The Ministers welcomed the decision of the ASEAN NTOs in providing the recognitions of the ASEAN Green Hotel Award to hotels in respective ASEAN Member States that have fulfilled the ASEAN Green Hotel Standards. The Ministers also supported Thailand’s proposal to develop wellness spa as an international standard. Cooperation with International Organizations

The Meeting welcomed the signing of MOU between the ASEAN Secretariat and UNWTO and encouraged both organizations to take necessary steps and devise appropriate measures in their respective domains including exploring avenues of cooperation and sharing of information. ASEAN Tourism Forum 2008

The Ministers were pleased that the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) held in Bangkok from 18 to 26 January 2008 with the theme: “Synergy of ASEAN towards Unity in Diversity” has brought more than 650 foreign tourism companies as buyers to explore business opportunities in tourism with about 446 sellers in ASEAN. They welcomed the efforts by the tourism industry in organizing more than 600 tourism booths. The Ministers acknowledged CNN International as the “Official International Cable and Satellite Media Partner” for ATF 2008.

The Meeting was attended by:

  • H.E. Pehin Dato Dr. Awg Haji Ahmad Haji Jumat, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam;
  • H.E. Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, Cambodia;
  • H.E. Mr. Jero Wacik, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Indonesia;
  • H.E. Mr. Somphong Mongkhonvilay, Minister, Chairman of Lao National Tourism Administration, Lao PDR;
  • H.E. Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Minister of Tourism, Malaysia;
  • H.E. Brig. Gen. Aye Myint Kyu, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar;
  • H.E. Mr. Oscar P. Palabyab, Undersecretary, Department of Tourism, Philippines;
  • H.E. Mr. S. Iswaran, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Singapore;
  • H.E. Dr. Suvit Yodmani, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Thailand;
  • H.E. Mr Hoang Tuan Anh, Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Viet Nam; and
  • H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN.

The next ATF will be held in Ha Noi from 5 to 12 January 2009 under the theme “ASEAN Tourism-Striving for a New Height”, and ATF 2010 will be held in Brunei Darussalam.

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