Brunei reaffirms support to bolster Asean tourism development efforts

BRUNEI Darussalam is committed to working further closely in strengthening the areas of promotion, capacity building, quality services and investment in the tourism sector between Asean and Plus 3 countries.

This was stated by Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, the Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism, while attending the 21st Asean Tourism Ministers Meeting, 17th Asean Plus 3 Tourism Ministers Meeting and the 6th Asean-India Tourism Ministers Meeting, held from January 25-26 in Chiang Mai, Thailand in conjunction with the Asean Tourism Forum 2018 (ATF).

The minister expressed his appreciation to the Ministers of Asean Tourism Plus 3 (APT) for their tourism cooperation and work activities, such as the implementation of the 2017 Asean-China Year of Tourism Cooperation, Asean-Japan Tourism Cooperation and Asean-Republic of Korea Tourism Collaboration, that have all increased the competitiveness of Asean as a single tourist destination.

The meetings were preceded by the 47th Meeting of Asean National Tourism Organisations (NTOs), the 33rd Meeting of Asean Plus 3 (APT) NTOs, 6th Asean-India Tourism Working Group Meeting and related meetings with dialogue partners, held from January 22-24.

Also present at the meetings was Wardi bin Haji Mohammad Ali, the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Tourism) at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism.

During the forum, the ministers noted the progress in the implementation of the Asean Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2016-2025, where 15 key activities under the Work Plan for 2016-2017 have been completed. In ensuring continued implementation of the programme, the ministers adopted the two-year Work Plan (2018-2019), translating identified activities within ATSP 2016-2025 into concrete detailed plans with clear milestones to be achieved for the next two years.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, the Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism, in a group photo with tourism ministers from Asean member countries

Rosy figures

Based on preliminary submissions made by member states for 2017, Asean is expected to receive 125 million international visitors, exceeding the target of 121 million international tourist arrivals to the region set for Visit Asean@50 Campaign, which was led by Brunei Darussalam. This new record posts a growth of four per cent from 2016, where the arrivals were dominated by intra-Asean travel, accounting for 42 per cent of total international arrivals. In addition to visitor arrivals target, the targets of stay length and revenue have also been fully achieved, with Asean hosting a total of 7.98 days of stay of international tourists, and generated $93 billion from tourism in 2017.

The success of the Visit Asean@50 Campaign was attributed to various marketing and promotional activities undertaken in 2016 and 2017, the ministers said, also acknowledging the significant support provided by the Asean-China Centre (ACC), Asean-Japan Centre (AJC), Asean- Korea Centre (AKC), AirAsia, Mastercard, TTG, CNN and GoASEAN.

The ministers supported the Asean Tourism Marketing Strategy (ATMS) 2017-2020 as an instrument to translate ATSP into a detailed plan of tourism marketing activities for Asean that provided a framework and strategic marketing direction for tourism collaboration, in order to enhance the competitiveness and awareness of Asean as a single tourism destination.

Following the momentum built from the Visit Asean@50 Campaign, the ministers agreed with recommendations of ATMS to strengthen effort in marketing Asean tourism through partnerships with international partners. In this regard, the ministers invited international partners to establish collaboration with Asean to promote and market the region through mutual beneficial activities led by Asean Tourism Marketing Partnership Working Group.

Cruise tourism

The ministers adopted the Asean Declaration on Cruise Tourism that highlighted the commitments of Asean to further develop and strengthen cruise tourism due to its potential for high economic growth. The declaration outlines the states’ commitment towards greater clarity in cruise-related policies and regulations, efficiency in processes, responsibility in business practices and capacity building.

Developing products

The ministers were pleased to note the progress of the development of new Asean Tourism Packages involving private sector, which would feature more than 130 tourism products covering multi-Asean destinations. In developing such products, the ministers tasked senior officials to also include supporting the development of Asean sub-regional destinations/corridors, targetting more inclusive tourism outcomes.

The ministers acknowledged the integral role of gastronomy in building a competitive destination brand and its ability to be a key driver to achieve inclusiveness, and thus encouraged cooperation between Asean member states to support the development of sustainable food production and consumption, and promote deeper understanding about gastronomic tourism in Southeast Asia.

Driving investments

The ministers acknowledged the urgency to expand and upgrade infrastructure and facilities to drive investment, and supported the Philippines to undertake collection of Asean conditions opportunities, and concurrently Myanmar’s effort in the implementation of related investment ‘guidelines’ on rules and regulation to generate interest among international investors.

The ministers applauded the effort for the collaboration with the Asean-Korea Centre, Asean-Japan Centre and Asean-China Centre in organising the Asean Plus 3 Tourism Investment Seminar in Korea, Japan and China from 2018 to 2020, and urged the Asean member states to actively participate in the seminar by sending speakers and participants to join the seminar.

The ministers encouraged member states to further invest in tourism-related infrastructure to further realise market potential by bringing better accessibility for all, particularly to people with disabilities, senior citizens, women and children.

Enhancing connectivity

The ministers were pleased with the signing of the Asean Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Cross Border Transport of Passengers by Road Vehicles (CBTP) by Asean Transport Ministers. This would facilitate seamless cross-border mobility of passengers and promote overland travel between Asean member states, particularly those travelling by bus and coaches. In further facilitating land travel within Asean, the ministers noted the development of studies on ‘Promoting Drive/Overland Tourism Across Asean through Recognition of Domestic Driving Licences Issued by Asean Countries’, and ‘Promote Development of Road Connectivity along Major Tourism Corridors’.

Asean-India cooperation

The ministers noted the steady growth in tourism exchange between Asean and India in 2016 where the preliminary total number of arrivals from India to Asean was 3.5 million, an increase of 6.1 per cent as compared to 2015. On the other hand, an influx of Asean tourists in 2016 increased by 6.5 per cent compared to 2015 and reached 746,069.

The increase of tourism exchange between Asean and India has been attributed by enhanced air connectivity between cities in Asean and India. In further strengthening this trend, the ministers supported initiatives undertaken by transport ministers to conclude the Asean-India Air Transport Agreement and Asean-India Maritime Transport Agreement.

The ministers noted that the ATF 2019 would be held from January 14-18, 2019 in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam with the theme ‘Asean – The Power of One’. ATF 2020 will be hosted in Brunei Darussalam.