Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ASEAN tourism forum highlights region’s push for further integration

ASEAN tourism forum highlights region’s push for further integration

ASEAN tourism forum highlights region’s push for further integration

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations yesterday concluded its annual Tourism Forum in Manado, Indonesia, furthering plans to facilitate intra-regional travel for both ASEAN nationals and foreign tourists, officials said.

Promoting the theme “ASEAN Tourism for a Global Community of Nations”, the forum was held between January 8-15 and provided “a great platform for tourism cooperation between the ASEAN countries to facilitate economic development and environmental conservation”, Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Mari Elka Pangestu said in a statement.

The event has aimed to project ASEAN as a single, highly competitive tourist destination by establishing shared laws that reduced travel barriers for visitors both within and to the region.

Such efforts were continued last week when ministers from all 10 member countries voiced their commitment to accelerate the 2006 ASEAN Framework Agreement for Visa Exemption, which would ease or erase visa requirements for travelling ASEAN nationals.

Cambodian Association of Travel Agents president Ang Kim Eang said that the process has already been long in development, and that Cambodians “now only require visas from a few countries such as Brunei and Myanmar”, adding that he believed these visas could be obtained on arrival.

Figures released at the meeting confirmed that intra-ASEAN travel continued to form a major portion of the tourism industry, comprising 43 per cent of total international arrivals in 2011.

The ministers also were receptive to a new initiative to develop an ASEAN common visa for foreign tourists sometime in the future. Senior officials were told to organise a comprehensive study so that the common visa proposal might be submitted to the 23rd ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh in April.

Ang Kim Eang claimed that Cambodia and Thailand would spearhead the experiment by testing a “bilateral visa agreement”, wherein travelers in possession of a Thai visa would qualify for entry into Cambodian territory.

He did not offer a deadline for when such an initiative would start.

If successful, the common visa could expand throughout the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and eventually all ASEAN countries, he said.

Discussions also extended outside the ASEAN sphere, particularly concerning the major neighbouring countries of China and Japan.

The ASEAN-China Air Transport Agreement, meant to “significantly enhance air accessibility between ASEAN and China”, was entered into force, according to an official statement. Specifics of the agreement were not immediately available.  

Japan was praised for its ongoing efforts to expand an “Open Skies” policy, or the opening of aviation markets between the participating partners, with other ASEAN countries.

Myanmar was appointed chief of GMS during the first days of the forum.

Ang Kim Eang said the decision was made to promote Myanmar’s more positive image in recent weeks, such as the release of hundreds of political prisoners, and to encourage further US involvement in the region.

The ASEAN Tourism Forum’s location changes each year according to alphabetical order. Laos is poised to host the 32nd forum in 2013.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group