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ASEAN discuss way to revitalise tourism

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Tourists ride bicycles around Angkor Thom complex in Siem Reap in June last year. Hong Menea

ASEAN discuss way to revitalise tourism

Cambodia's Ministry of Tourism led the 53rd meeting of the ASEAN National Tourism Organisations to discuss plans for introducing the ASEAN tourism recovery strategy and post-crisis recovery plans due in late March.

The video conference meeting on February 2 was attended by 300 representatives from institutions including the ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA), World Tourism Organisation, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and US-ASEAN Business Council, as well as the non-ASEAN nations Japan, South Korea and China.

In a Facebook post on February 3, the tourism ministry said that in order for the ASEAN tourism sector to recover, measures were needed to attract tourists to the region and member nations were assembled to discuss plans.

“The discussion of these plans will be submitted to the ASEAN tourism ministers meeting for instructions and direction for the ASEAN cooperative framework implementation with other relevant partners in the future,” the post said.

Thong Rathasak, director-general of Tourism Development and International Cooperation who chaired the meeting, told The Post that participants had discussed the ASEAN Tourism Market Strategic Plan 2021-2025 and post-Covid-19 ASEAN tourism recovery plan preparations.

He said initiating the use of digital systems and artificial intelligence to promote ASEAN tourism is in line with the ASEAN Declaration on Digital Tourism introduced by the 37th ASEAN Summit on November 12, last year, in Vietnam.

He noted that ASEAN countries had supported online tourism skills training according to the ASEAN qualification system and had been supportive of Cambodia’s tourism ministry introducing the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement E-learning programme.

Rathasak said the ASEAN meeting had also discussed and examined the possibility of safe and responsible travelling through ASEAN corridors as the group study the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines to create credibility and restore trust in tourists in the ASEAN region again.

From January to March last year, 1.16 million international tourists visited Cambodia, a drop of 38 per cent from the same period in 2019. During the second quarter of last year, the number of tourists dropped steeply – up to 90 per cent year-on-year – as the country suffered from the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

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