The stunning natural beauty, unique historical sites and rich cultural traditions of Asean will be within easier reach of travellers under plans being promoted by some of the region’s tourism ministers and officials.
“Successful hosting is not automatically successful tourism. We must begin with fundamental strategy”
RAMON R. JIMENEZ JR
Philippine Secretary of Tourism
The goal of efforts discussed at the recent World Economic Forum in Nay Pyi Taw will be to facilitate the ease of travel within the region, hoping to expand the number of incoming travellers both within and between the regions.
“We are trying to promote Asean as a destination by including two to three stops in one package,” said Mari Elka Pangestu, the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia.
With greater integration and standardisation, the region’s tourism sector is expected to grow by 10-20% over the coming years, she added.
Asean ministers and tourism authorities from Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines agreed at the WEF to collaborate on a “smart tourism” system using electronic systems and a third party to facilitate visa issuance and processing. The objective is to eliminate barriers that currently create disincentives to travel.
“Successful hosting is not automatically successful tourism. We must begin with fundamental strategy. Inclusive is not the end result, it is the strategy,” said Ramon R. Jimenez Jr, Secretary of Tourism of the Philippines.
“A successful tourism programme begins by deciding whom to include, what community has the highest propensity for success, and then you move forward.”
He stressed that it is important “that we create jobs and opportunities for the people of our own country while keeping in mind that this is not going to destroy our islands and natural beauty”.
U Htay Aung, Minister of Hotels and Tourism of Myanmar, stressed the importance of creating responsible and sustainable tourism, explaining that the culture and customs of Myanmar must be protected and well-respected by international visitors.
“We are in the age of infancy and are not educated in tourism. That’s why the first thing I did was draft a responsible tourism policy,” he explained, “We intend to use tourism to help Myanmar people obtain a better life.”
Across the region, the tourism and travel sector directly provides jobs for more than 9 million people and generates 5% of Asean’s gross domestic product.
With the country in the midst of an economic metamorphosis, the tourism sector is playing an important role in stimulating Myanmar’s urban and rural economies.
Myanmar has expressed strong support for a regional and intra-regional trade shift, committing to allow all Asean nationals to visit the country without a prior visa by as early as next year.
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Writer: Nithi Kaveevivitchai