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Experts call for concerted tourism efforts in Asean
Publication Date : 31-08-2012
The Asean Economic Community will become one of the world's major destinations once the economic integration comes into effect in 2015 and all 10 members of the bloc will have to pool their tourism packages to promote the region as a common destination, according to tourism experts.
They should also introduce a single passport for Asean citizens to make travel between the countries easier, they suggested.
Dato Nazirah Hussain, Malaysia's ambassador to Thailand, said that launching a single passport for Asean people would make it more convenient and also boost the flow of intra-region travellers, beyond a single visa for non-Asean members to drive up foreign tourist numbers.
Although the CLMV nations (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) will launch their own single-visa scheme for foreign travellers in the future, she does not it see it having any impact on Asean overall. Such a creation depends on the readiness of countries. In the end, there will be a single visa for all countries in the grouping, she said.
Wiryanti Sukamdani, president of Asean Tourism Association, based in Kuala Lumpur, said the introduction of a single passport for Asean people is a possibility. What the overall industry should do is to share the product strengths of each nation to design a tourism package for the whole region, embracing shopping, marine paradise and religious trips.
According to Sukamdani, tourism in Asean posted the world's highest growth rate of 19 per cent last year. The number has the potential to grow even more if member nations worked together. Hussain said competition is common between members, but pointed out all nations can work together to produce benefits for the whole.
Speaking at the Asia Pacific Digital Travel Forum, tourism experts viewed that technology is playing a rising role in Asean tourism and its use will help strengthen the region in this field in terms of connectivity.