ASEAN tourism ministers at a meeting in Hanoi on Jan. 8 agreed on the need for further exploration of the regional market and the involvement of the private sector in the industry.
At the 12th meeting of the tourism ministers of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the participants said these measures will help mitigate the impact of the current global economic downturn on tourism.
The ministers suggested tourism officials in the member countries cooperate with private businesses in offering highly competitive package tours to ASEAN customers as well as those from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, which are the region’s major markets.
They also reaffirmed their commitment to accelerating the integration process and enacting the initiative by ASEAN’s top national tourism officers (NTOs) on developing a strategic plan for the industry in the 2011-2015 period.
The meeting adopted a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), which is expected to improve human resources for tourism and facilitate the move of skilled tourism workers in the region.
Further steps are expected after the signing of the agreement to improve the capacity of concerned regional and national agencies within the MRA framework.
In the last year, ASEAN countries held a number of promotional activities to expand their foothold in potential markets, including an agreement to establish an ASEAN-Korea centre in Seoul in early 2009, the ASEAN-India conference in Myanmar last August on Buddhist pilgrimage tours, and the ASEAN Tourism Investment Forum in the Philippines last July.
The regional tourism industry served 54 million foreign visitors in 2008, 7 percent higher than the previous year, despite the ongoing global financial crunch and political turmoil in some member countries.
The 12 th meeting of ASEAN tourism ministers was organised as part of the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2009 (ATF), the biggest regional tourism event ever held in Vietnam.
The ATF’s programme includes a tourism fair (TRAVEX) to take place on January 12 with the expected participation of nearly 600 international travel agencies.