Southeast Asian countries announced a 10-year goal to increase tourism in the region. Tourism ministers of all ten ASEAN member nations signed the plan at the annual tourism ministers meeting in Manila. It’s aimed at helping ASEAN tourism play a greater role in the region’s economy.

Tourism accounts for just 12.3% of ASEAN’s GDP and 3.7% of total employment in the region as of 2013. However, the goal is to bring these numbers up to 15% and 7% respectively before 2026.

Other goals are increasing the number of total visits to the region and also 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. They want to bring those numbers up to 152 million and $1,500 respectively.

 

ASEAN Tourism Becomes One Market

The 10-year plan consists of several actions which should jumpstart tourism in ASEAN. These include more promotion and marketing through regional campaigns, in addition to redeveloping destinations to improve their attractiveness.

Tourism ministers themselves created the first new promotion. Marking the 50th anniversary of ASEAN next year, they launched a campaign titled, “Visit ASEAN@50”.

However, the campaign will happen at a travel convention in Berlin – not Southeast Asia itself. It will feature hundreds of ASEAN tourism products, events, and experiences.

Yet 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 Southeast Asian people.

There’s already a plan set in motion to improve the region’s connectivity and infrastructure. The dream of having a regional ASEAN visa similar to the EU’s is now closer to reality.

A regional visa for Southeast Asia should reach full implementation within 5 years. All nations agree with the plan, but technical difficulties are delaying its execution.

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

Will the Plan Increase Tourism Growth in ASEAN?

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

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

It’s also a very resilient sector. For example, recent bombings in Jakarta had almost no impact on tourist arrivals according to Indonesia’s tourism minister. Observers saw similar effects during coups in Thailand.

2016 already saw the official start of the AEC. Now, it seems like the entire Southeast Asian region is revamping 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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