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Briefing of the 16th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers

Briefing of
the 16th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers, 12th Meeting of ASEAN Plus Three Tourism Ministers, 4th Meeting of ASEAN-India Tourism Ministers, 4th Meeting of Greater Mekong Sub-Region Tourism Ministers, and ATF 2013
January 18-24, 2013, Vientiane, Lao PDR

H.E Dr. THONG Khon, Minister of Tourism, led Cambodian delegation to attend the 16th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers, 12th Meeting of ASEAN Plus Three Tourism Ministers, 4th Meeting of ASEAN-India Tourism Ministers, and ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2013 under theme of “Hand in Hand: Conquering Our Future”, held in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

1- The 16th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers
The ASEAN Tourism Ministers expressed their high valuation for the progress of the implementation of ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP 2011-2015), which was adopted at ATF 2011 in Phnom Penh. Until the end of 2012, ASEAN has completed 24 measures, and the meeting was pledged to continue making cooperation in encouraging the implementation of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan in a successful and timely manner, particularly improving quality of tourism through setting standards, improving human resource development and quality in tourism sector through implementing the Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals (MRA) and continuing joint promotion in order to attract more ASEAN tourists and pushing for “ASEAN for ASEAN”, as well as enhancing ASEAN connectivity, etc. In order to implement this spirit:

  • - The ASEAN Tourism Ministers endorsed the Manual Audit Checklist for ASEAN Green Hotel, ASEAN Homestay, and ASEAN Spa Service Standards, particularly agreed and endorsed the ASEAN Clean Tourist City Standard which Cambodia is a leading country for setting up this standard, based on Cambodian Clean City Standard (Consisting of 7 basic indicators, 28 detailed indicators, and 108 criteria). In the Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers, the meeting expressed its support for the development of cooperation on the ASEAN tourism product development, namely: nature, cultural and heritage and cruise and river-based tourism, and for the ASEAN Ecotourism Strategic Plan. The meeting tasked Cambodia to be as a Chairman of ASEAN Tourism Integration and Budget Committee for 2013-2014.
  • - The ASEAN Tourism Ministers also expressed their high appreciation and valuation for the progress of the implementation of ASEAN Tourism Marketing Strategy 2012-2015, which was adopted in 2012 in order to turn the ASEAN region to be highly competitive tourist destination, focusing on Chinese, Japan, Korean and Indian tourism and Intra ASEAN tourism. In particular, for China, the setting of “Tourism Digital Campaign” and “ASEAN for ASEAN” strategy is supported by the completion of the development of website “www. Aseantourism.travel”. It is remarkable that in 2012 the ASEAN region received more than 81 million international tourists at the growth rate of 10.14% (including approximately 18 million tourists from China, Japan, Korea, and 2.7 million from India, and Intra ASEAN Travelers are equivalent to 46.5% of total number).

2- The 12th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers Plus Three
The Meeting was held following the agenda of ASEAN Tourism Cooperation+3 (China, Japan, and Rep. Korea). The Meeting exchanged views and highly valuated the enhancement of tourism cooperation within the framework of ASEAN+3, and proposed further improving ASEAN Tourism promotion to the three countries, enhancing connectivity between ASEAN+3, boosting cooperation in assuring tourists security, and safety, and speeding up the implementation of ASEAN+3 work plan 2007-2017, through adopting ASEAN Plus Three Work Plan 2013-2017 and welcomed the establishment of promotional system between ASEAN+3. The meeting appreciated Cambodia for setting various activities to support the ASEAN+3 Visit Year 2013. The ASEAN Tourism Ministers also valuated the ASEAN-Japan Center, ASEAN-China Center, and ASEAN-Korea Center for concerted efforts and providing technical support for ASEAN Tourism Development. Along with this, The ASEAN Tourism Ministers welcomed the report by Xu Jing, Regional Director of UNWTO, high representative of H.E Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO, which reflects the development of cooperation between the ASEAN member states and UNWTO. Additionally, Cambodia will host the UNWTO’s Regional Conference in December, 2013, and UNWTO’s General Assembly in 2015. The whole meeting paid attention to and supported Cambodia to be as a candidate.

3- The 4th Meeting of ASEAN-India Tourism Ministers
The Meeting highly valuated the progress of cooperation between ASEAN and India in the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between ASEAN and India on Tourism Development Cooperation, which was signed in 2012, in particular the success in organizing the 2nd ASEAN-India Car Rally 2012.  At the same time, the ASEAN Tourism Ministers welcomed the operation of ASEAN Promotion Chapter Mumbai, and the development of website: www.indiaasean.org , a means of promoting ASEAN-India tourism. The ASEAN Tourism Ministers congratulated the success of ASEAN-India Car Rally 2012 organization. The ASEAN Tourism Ministers and India have signed the protocol of the amendments to the Memorandum of Understanding between ASEAN and India.

4- The 4th Meeting of Greater Mekong Sub-Region Tourism Ministers
The 4th Meeting of GMS Tourism Ministers was held with the participation of the GMS Tourism Ministers, representatives of Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), ADB, international organizations, and development partners. The meeting agreed and supported the report by representative of ADB about the strategic program on GMS economic cooperation and regional investment frameworks, reviewing, discussing, and valuating the implementation of priority programs of the GMS tourism development strategy and action plan 2013 of GMS tourism. The meeting supported the implementation of mid-term GMS tourism development Farming game Horse Care Time Barbie sweet Horse strategy and roadmap 2011-2015, which was adopted in 2011, in Phnom Penh, jointly promoting GMS as a single destination and encouraging the implementation of strategic programs, including human resource development in tourism, marketing promotion, product development, and poverty reduction through tourism sector. Along with this, the meeting also agreed on the enhancement of GMS tourism development cooperation through using technical task force mechanism every two times a year with MTCO being as a secretariat, and coordinator, especially proposed enhancing the facilitation of tourists’ travels in the GMS, particularly encouraging the implementation of Cross Border Transport Agreement (goods and services) in order to facilitate tourists as well as the people travelling the whole GMS.

In summary, the ASEAN Tourism Ministers supported and were committed to push forward ASEAN Connectivity through continuously pushing for the visa exemption for all people of ASEAN member states, and welcomed the establishment of Joint Working Group, Common Visa in ASEAN. Along with this, it  encouraged using the Minus X (-X) formula by taking experiences in the implementation within the framework of ACMECS (Single Visa) between Cambodia and Thailand, which have been implementing, and continuing closer and closer cooperation with ASEAN transport section, in particular enhancing air connectivity, especially welcoming the ASEAN-China Air Agreement. It is noticeable that the opening ceremony of the ATF 2013 was highly presided over by H.E Thongsing Thamavong, Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, together with ASEAN, China, Japanese, Korean, and India Tourism Ministers. Besides the meetings of ATF, there were exhibition, whereby Cambodia had booth with a contribution from private sector for broadening Cambodian tourism promotion.  In 2014, ASEAN Tourism Forum shall be organized in Kuching, Malaysia, January 16-23, 2014.