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ASEAN drives for sustainable tourism at Development Tourism Forum 2018

The 37th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF 2018) has come to a close.

It finished with a joint reiteration from the 10 ASEAN nations to step up concerted efforts in sustainable tourism development as ASEAN invited five dialogue partners to invest in infrastructure for boundless opportunity in tourism.

In line with its development plan, the ASEAN Sustainable Tourism Award was given for the first time to the outstanding urban and rural establishments in addition to the annual presentation of ASEAN Green Hotel Standard, ASEAN MICE Venue Standard, ASEAN Clean Tourist City Standard, and ASEAN Sustainable Award.

There are 134 recipients this year.

“As host of this year’s ATF 2018, we are very happy and proud that the forum ended with great success with many concrete moves forward to achieve our common goals,” said Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat during the press conference held at the Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai.

He was joined by Vice Chair, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Thien, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Viet Nam and fellow ASEAN Ministers.

According to Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat, ASEAN has seen remarkable progress in its ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (2016-2025) with strong regional collaboration to make ASEAN a united, single destination through ASEAN Tourism Marketing Strategy (ATMS 2017-2020).

He cited the success of the recent campaign “Visit ASEAN@50” which exceeded their expectation when it registered 126 million international arrivals against the target of 121 million.

Thailand alone received over 35 million and tourism contributed to over 20 per cent of the GDP.

According to World Travel & Tourism Council, tourism contributes more than 12 per cent of ASEAN’s total GDP.

That is nearly 4 per cent above most regions in the world. And by 2026, the number of people employed in the industry will increase to over 80 million.

“ASEAN tourism growth potential seems unstoppable, and we must sustain growth to strengthen our economy.

“We thus welcome all investors,” he said, adding that the Ministerial Meeting had adopted the declaration in four important areas namely Cruise Tourism, Gastronomy Tourism, Tourism Investment and Tourism for All focusing on the development of tourism infrastructure with connectivity in rail, land and aviation to make ASEAN a united, single destination.

They also agreed on the issues of joint marketing strategies, ASEAN tourism personnel development and standardisation to facilitate expertise sharing within the region.

Hosted by Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the 5-day forum under the theme of “ASEAN — Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity” was attended in full force by –

The Honourable Dato Ali Apong, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism, Brunei Darussalam, Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, Cambodia, Dr. Arief Yahya, Minister of Tourism, Indonesia, Prof. Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lao PDR, Dato Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia, Mr. Ohn Maung, Minister of Hotel and Tourism, Myanmar, Mr. Benito Jr. Bengzon, Undersecretary of the Department of Tourism, Philippines, Ms. Ann Sim, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore, Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat Minister of Tourism and Sports, Thailand, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Thien, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Viet Nam

It also welcome Tourism Ministers from China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Russia as well as high-level delegations from each country’s National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) and top executives of the ASEAN Secretariat.

Apart from high-level meetings to map out regional tourism policies and with dialogue partners, ATF 2018 also featured seminars on “ASEAN Gastronomy” organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and featuring international speakers; “MICE Conference” by Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (Public Organisation), and “Travel Exchange” by Tourism Authority of Thailand at Chiang Mai International Exhibition Centre

Next year, Vietnam will be the host of ATF 2019 in Quang Ninh.

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