KUCHING: While the outlook for tourism at the global level is bright, the growth potential of tourism in ASEAN countries is even brighter, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Monday.
“Inbound tourists to Southeast Asia region is projected to register an increase of 5.1% per annum, which is higher than the global average annual growth rate of 3.3% for the period of 2010 to 2030,” Najib said while officially launching the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2014 (ATF).
Najib cited a study by United Nation World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which projected that collectively, tourist arrivals to Southeast Asia will increase from 69.9 million in 2010 to 187 million in 2030.
“This reflects the dynamism and attractiveness of ASEAN countries as a tourist region,” said Najib.
He said international tourist arrivals, on the other hand, are expected to increase from 940 million in 2010 to 1.8 billion in 2030. This accounts for an expansion in market size of 900 million international tourists in 2030.
“Tourism is widely acknowledge as a star industry and one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world,” he said, highlighting the surpassing of the 1 billion mark in the world-wide international tourist arrivals and overall tourist receipts exceeding US$1 trillion for the first time in 2002.
Najib said that ASEAN countries are on track to deliver the outcomes of the key strategic trusts, developing experiential and innovative regional tourism products, implementing creating marketing and investment strategies, improving the quality of human resources, service and facilities as well as enhancing travel facilitation and ASEAN connectivity.
He added advancing tourism together makes it necessary to engage travel agents from respective countries to develop multi-country tour packages such as the UNESCO 1-2-3 heritage tour which covers three UNESCO world heritage sites, Melaka, Penang in Malaysia and Borodubur in Indonesia.
Aside from that, Najib also said tourism is also vital for the socio-cultural benefits as it promotes people to people connectivity- one of the key strategies towards achieving the ASEAN Community by 2015.
“Travelling brings people into contact with each other, while offering enjoyable and learning experiences for tourists. This fosters greater understanding and builds friendship between local communities and people from diverse backgrounds, lifestyles, culture and heritage. It also contributes towards peace, stability and solidarity, which are the basic building blocks for the tourism industry to flourish.
The ATF, in its 33rd year, involves the tourism industry sectors of the 10 member nations of ASEAN.
Tourism ministers and officials annually discuss, review and strategise ways to continuously promote ASEAN as the world’s top travel destination.
Exhibitors and buyers and trade visitors also meet to for the Travel Exchange (TRAVEX) for the selling and buying of tourism products.
Source : Astro Awani, 21 Jan 2014