Last Friday, the world saw the announcement of a 10-year plan to step up tourism in the ASEAN region. The plan was signed by the tourism ministers of all 10 member nations of ASEAN at the annual tourism ministers meeting at Manila, Philippines. The aim  is to help tourism capture more opportunities, and for it to play a bigger role in the regional economy.

As of 2013, tourism accounts for only 12.3% of ASEAN’s GDP and 3.7% of total employment in the region. By the end of 2025, the aim is to bring these numbers up to 15% and 7% respectively.

Other goals are increasing the number of total visits to the region and the amount spent per visitor. Statistics show that these two numbers now stand at 105 million people per year and US$877 spent per visitor and the aim is to bring those numbers up to 152 million and $1,500 respectively.


Southeast Asia’s Master Plan for Tourism

The 10-year plan consists of intensifying already existing promotion and marketing through interregional campaigns, redeveloping destinations to improve their attractiveness, luring more investment into the tourism industry, improving and expanding infrastructure and interregional connectivity, and increasing the participation from the local communities by encouraging the entire population to create an irresistible experience for tourists.

The first of the intensified promotions will be carried out by the tourism ministers themselves. Marking the 50th anniversary of ASEAN next year, they launched a campaign titled, “Visit ASEAN@50”. The campaign will be launched later this March, not in the region itself but in Berlin at a travel convention. The campaign will feature hundreds of ASEAN tourism products, events, and experiences.

Another promotional campaign targets tourists looking for a cruise. The ministers adopted a new branding: Cruise Southeast Asia, feel the warmth. This new branding, as explained by an official, was inspired by the waves and highlights the vibrant diversity, culture, and warmth of the people of Southeast Asia.

In terms of improving the region’s connectivity and infrastructure, there is a plan set into motion already. The dream of having on ASEAN visa similar to the EU’s has been getting closer to becoming a reality. According to the tourism minister of Philippines, it should be fully implemented within 5 years. It seems that all nations are in agreement with the plan, but technical difficulties are delaying its execution.

He added that it was an incredible opportunity to show unity to the world by having a single ASEAN visa that would make the region seem like a single destination. This would also undoubtedly increase the number of visiting tourists to each country.

Will the Plan Increase Tourism Growth in ASEAN?

Even though Southeast Asia has developing countries still lacking in some basic forms of infrastructure, there is one reason this plan has a high chance to meet its goals. And the reason here can be summed up into a keyword: Tourism.

If there is one single thing that the combined forces of the ten ASEAN nations excel at, it is tourism. It is the most resilient and ever-growing industry that is the heart and soul of many economies in the region.

The most recent bombings in Jakarta, Indonesia was reported to have had no effect on the planned arrivals of tourists whatsoever, according to the Indonesian tourism minister.

2016 has already seen the official start of the AEC and now ASEAN as a whole is revamping its efforts to boost tourism.

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