ASEAN COOPERATION: Ensure region remains world's top tourist destination, says NajibKUCHING: ASEAN countries need to strategise their way forward and implement measures to ensure that Southeast Asia remains the world's most-preferred tourist destination, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
He said member states could reap benefits through strategic thrusts put in place and that there was much to gain from the tourism industry, adding that Asean needed to position itself ahead of its anticipated growth.
"Tourism is widely acknowledged as a star industry and one of the fastest-growing economic sectors in the world. Its stellar performance globally is evident from the landmark milestones achieved, notably, the surpassing of the one-billion mark in worldwide international tourist arrivals and tourist spending exceeding US$1 trillion (RM3.3 trillion) for the first time in 2012. The industry generated 235 million jobs worldwide in 2012."
He said this in his opening speech at the 33rd Asean Tourism Forum here yesterday.
Present were Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, tourism ministers from Asean countries and 2,000 delegates. The forum is held from Jan 16 until Friday.
Najib said inbound tourists to Southeast Asian countries were projected to register at 5.1 per cent annually, higher than the global average annual growth rate of 3.3 per cent from 2010 to 2030. In the same region, tourist arrivals are projected to increase from 69.9 million in 2010 to 187 million in 2030, raising the global market share from 7.4 per cent to 10.3 per cent in the same period.
"It is imperative to strategise our way forward and implement measures to ensure that Southeast Asia remains the world's most-preferred tourist destination," said Najib, noting that the theme "Asean -- Advancing Tourism Together" was apt as it reinforced Asean's commitment to work together to achieve the goals of the Asean Tourism Strategic Plan (2011-2015).
"Advancing tourism together supports the realisation of the Asean mission of 'One Vision, One Identity, One Community' by 2015. Towards this end, measures that have been undertaken include the signing of the Asean Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals, which comes into effect next year."
The Asean Promotional Chapter for Tourism and the tagline "Southeast Asia, Feel the Warmth" also strengthen joint efforts to raise the region's profile as a tourist destination.
Earlier, in a joint statement read by Nazri, the Asean tourism ministers commended the progress made in facilitating the free flow of services and skilled labour of tourism professionals within the region through the implementation of the mutual recognition arrangement.
On the aftermath of the earthquake and super typhoon in the Philippines, the ministers agreed to encourage the immediate implementation of frameworks, approaches and parameters on climate change and tourism.
Source : NST, 21 Jan 2014