MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Southeast Asian tourism ministers on Friday launched a 10-year plan to ramp up marketing of their region as a single destination to raise tourism’s share of the regional economy to 15 percent by 2025.
The ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations also announced that they will begin a “Visit ASEAN@50” campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of the regional group next year. The campaign, to be launched in March at a travel convention in Berlin, will showcase hundreds of ASEAN tourism products, events and experiences and target people within and outside the region.
Tourism accounted for 12.3 percent of ASEAN’s GDP in 2013 with 102.2 million tourist arrivals. ASEAN says the number of tourists rose to 105 million in 2014.
ASEAN formally established a unified economic community in December, and officials said tourism is a major pillar of integration for the region of more than 600 million people.
As part of common branding, the tourism ministers unveiled an ASEAN cruise brand with a logo of linked, colorful waves.
Philippine Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said a goal of having a common ASEAN visa may become a reality within the next five years. He said everyone is in agreement on having one visa but technical hurdles are delaying its implementation.
“As ASEAN turns 50 it is an incredible opportunity for us to launch the whole idea that ASEAN is a single destination, not 10,” added Jimenez, who chaired the ministers’ annual meeting in Manila.
In a statement, the ministers offered their condolences to Indonesia over bombings last week in Jakarta. They expressed appreciation for Indonesia’s rapid response to the attack to avert any impact on tourism.
Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said there have been no travel cancelations since the bombings, which killed eight people, and appealed to ASEAN members for their continued support.
The 10-year tourism plan calls for intensified promotion and marketing, diversification of tourism products including development of sub-regional destinations, attraction of tourism investment, promotion of an ASEAN tourism standards certification system, expansion of connectivity and infrastructure, and increased participation of local communities in tourism.
If the projects are fully implemented, ASEAN said it anticipates that tourism’s share of total employment could rise from 3.7 percent to 7 percent by 2025 and per capita spending by international tourists could increase from $877 to $1,500. Tourist arrivals in ASEAN are expected to increase to 152 million by 2025.
Jimenez said by 2030, ASEAN is forecast to account for 25 percent of 1.8 billion world tourist arrivals.
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