ASEAN Tourism Ministers on Wednesday recognised the urgent need to strengthen the coordination mechanism to overcome challenges facing the tourism sector after Covid-19 brought travel and tourism businesses to a standstill.
They said the pandemic has led to high rates of unemployment and adversely affected the lives of many communities in ASEAN.
The ministers convened at a special meeting via video conference with Cambodia hosting, led by Minister of Tourism Thong Khon.
The goal was to find solutions to mitigate the Covid-19 impact on the tourism sector and jointly enhance cooperation to impose a restoration policy and set future goals to boost tourism.
Its joint statement said: “We are encouraged by the efforts individually and collectively implemented through various ASEAN government bodies in taking a united stand to mitigate the impact of the outbreak.
“We agree to implement clear policies and measures to bolster confidence among domestic and international visitors to Southeast Asia, including the development of clear standards and guidelines for a safer and healthier work environment to protect our workers and communities in the hospitality and tourism-related industries, destinations and establishments in ASEAN member states.”
The tourism ministers also agreed to continue to cooperate with ASEAN dialogue partners, international organisations and industry stakeholders to build a resilient and prepared Southeast Asia to effectively implement and manage tourism with sustainability and inclusiveness in the wake of the crisis.
“We agree to support the development and implementation of a post Covid-19 crisis recovery plan without undermining efforts to safeguard public health, which includes, but is not limited to, building up ASEAN tourism capabilities and engaging with industry stakeholders to boost business and consumer confidence.
“We agree to explore creative and innovative solutions to stimulate the tourism sector, especially through the use of digital technologies, ensuring top-of-mind marketing efforts and joint tourism promotion programmes to advance ASEAN as a single tourism destination,” the statement continued.
The ASEAN tourism ministers shared experiences on best practices for the prevention of Covid-19 and its impact in each member country, as well as strategic plans and actions to rescue tourism during the early recovery stage as well as the post-crisis recovery plan, the ministry of tourism posted on Facebook.
In Cambodia, 2,865 tourism businesses have been suspended or closed, affecting 46,369 employees, while 96 tour guides have suspended their licenses, Fresh News quoted Khon as saying in a press conference on Wednesday.
In the second week of March, more than 190,000 Cambodian and internal foreign tourists continued to tour the resorts and tourist sites in Cambodia, Khon told Fresh News last month.
Every day, especially on weekends, they continue to travel to tourism sites with family, in small groups, and individually, he said.
In particular, young people continue to visit eco-tourism and adventure tourism sites, coastal-island areas and other destinations in their provinces as normal.