Selasa 21 Jan 2014 13:01 WIB

Intra-ASEAN connectivity to boost tourism in the region

Two workers make shoes in a workshop in Bandung, West Java. Indonesia must prepare its products to competitive with products from other ASEAN coutries as ASEAN Community to be implemented in 2015. (llustration)
Foto: Republika/Edi Yusuf
Two workers make shoes in a workshop in Bandung, West Java. Indonesia must prepare its products to competitive with products from other ASEAN coutries as ASEAN Community to be implemented in 2015. (llustration)

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA -- Tourism Minister Mari Elka Pangestu led the Indonesian delegation to the annual meeting of the ASEAN tourism ministers, as part of the ASEAN Tourism Forum activities held in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia on January 19-20.

She emphasized the importance of an intra-ASEAN connectivity to boost tourism in the region as well as a visa facility for non-ASEAN citizens to make their trip to the region, as a single destination, as smooth as possible.

The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that Visa Facilitation has the potential to increase the number of tourists by six to 10 percent to ASEAN in 2016 and boost the income by US$7 to US$10 million.

"I agreed and support visa facilitation, which is a key instrument in increasing tourism, economic and social development, and creating job opportunities," Minister Mary remarked in a press release received by Antara here on Monday.

The ASEAN Tourism Forum is the largest tourism forum in the ASEAN region to discuss development and sustainability of the tourism sector in the ASEAN region.

The ATF 2014, held under the "Advancing Tourism Together" theme, was intended to reiterate tourism cooperation, which has been built by the governments and private parties in order to facilitate economic development, environmental preservation, and the welfare of the people in the ASEAN region.

The meeting agenda focused on the development of the tourism sector, which is encouraging and resilient, despite the uncertainty and global economic slowdown.

The direct and indirect contribution of tourism to the economy in the ASEAN member countries, including Indonesia, was recorded at around 8 to 9 percent of the GDP and has helped to create one out of 11 jobs.

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the highest growth based on regions, was recorded in the ASEAN region, where the number of tourists to the region grew 8.3 percent in the period between 2015 and 2012 as compared to the global growth of only 3.6 percent. In 2013, it reached 12 percent or 90.2 million as compared to the global growth of only 5 percent.

At present, Southeast Asia contributes 7.3 percent to the total foreign tourist growth, and it is forecast to grow up to 10.3 percent by 2030.

Growth and good performance was noted in the tourism sector in the ASEAN economies due to various factors, which include improved infrastructure and connectivity through direct flights and the expansion of low-cost carriers, improvement in the buying capacity of the people in the region, improved visa facility, and good cooperation among the ASEAN member countries and ASEAN with its key partners in Asia.

Around 46 percent of foreign tourists to the ASEAN countries came from within the ASEAN countries and 32 percent from other Asian countries especially China, Japan, Korea, and India.

In view of that, regional and ASEAN cooperation is of paramount importance with regard to meeting the commitment made under the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2011-2015, which is part of the efforts to achieve the target of the ASEAN Economic Community by the end of 2015. The achievement has now already reached 75 percent.

It was agreed in the meeting to intensify efforts, so that by the year 2015, the target of the community can be fully achieved.

Significant progress has been made with regard to the integration of the tourism sector and the mobility of the professional workers in the field of tourism through the implementation of the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on the tourism professionals.

With regard to this, 31 professions have been agreed upon under the MRA for the hotels and restaurants sector as well as the travel sector. Indonesia has been appointed to be the regional secretariat, which will facilitate the implementation of the MRA.

Indonesia itself has certified as many as 58,627 tourism workers in 2013, which was above the set target of only 50 thousand for 2014.

Besides the standards for professionals, nine other standards have also been finalized for green hotels, which include the environment management aspect, efficiency in the use of energy and water, community impact on the people residing around the hotels, and the use of raw materials and supplies from domestic and local sources.

In the 13th meeting, the ASEAN tourism ministers with chief delegates from the partner countries in ASEAN+3, namely, China, Japan and Korea, revealed the number of tourists from their respective countries to the ASEAN region, which showed different growth rates.

Meanwhile, the number of tourists from the three partners visiting Indonesia grew positively.

In 2013, the number of tourists from South Korea and Japan increased by 5.67 percent and 8.81 percent respectively.

In the same period, the number of tourists from China to Indonesia grew 21.85 percent, totaling 695,684.

sumber : Antara
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