The announcement of a 10-year goal to increase tourism in Southeast Asia was made. 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 ASEAN 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. The aim is to bring those numbers up to 152 million and $1,500 respectively.

 

ASEAN Tourism to Become One Market

The 10-year plan consists of intensifying already existing promotion and marketing through interregional campaigns, redeveloping destinations to improve their attractiveness, and luring more investment into the tourism industry.

The first of the new 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 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, 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 is getting closer to reality. According to the tourism minister of the Philippines, it should be fully implemented within 5 years. All nations are in agreement with the plan, but technical difficulties are delaying its execution.

He added that it was an incredible opportunity to unite by having a single ASEAN tourism visa, making the region a single destination. This would also undoubtedly increase the number of visiting tourists to each country.

Will the Plan Increase Tourism Growth in ASEAN?

Southeast Asia has developing countries still lacking in some basic forms of infrastructure. But there’s one reason this plan has a high chance to meet its goals. The reason can be summed up into a single word: tourism.

If there’s one thing the ten ASEAN nations excel at, it’s tourism. Tourism is the heart of many economies in Southeast Asia.

It’s a very resilient sector too. For example, recent bombings in Jakarta were reported to have no effect on the arrivals of tourists, according to the Indonesian tourism minister. Similar effects were also seen during coups in Thailand.

2016 already saw the official start of the AEC. Now, ASEAN as a whole is revamping its efforts to boost tourism.

About Reid Kirchenbauer

Reid Kirchenbauer is the Founder of InvestAsian. He's experienced with trading stocks and buying property in Thailand, Cambodia, and elsewhere. He's been featured in publications such as Forbes, Nomad Capitalist, Property Report, and Seeking Alpha. Download his free investment guide by clicking here.

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