Mr. Wardiyatmo, Secretary-General for Cultural and Tourism Resources Development, Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Indonesia,
Mr. Jose Tavares, Director for Dialogue Partners and Inter-Regional Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia,
Mr. Sergey Tolchenov, Charge D`affaires, the Russian Embassy in Indonesia,
Mr. Yuri Kopilov, Deputy Director, Institute for Tourism & Hospitality, Russian
State University for Tourism and Services,
Distinguished Delegates from ASEAN Member States,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening.

I would like to congratulate all participants from ASEAN Member States for your effort and commitment in participating in the one-month In-Class Training on Russian Language for ASEAN Tour Operators. For our region, this undertaking is beneficial to upgrade the capacity of tourist guides and tour operator in handling the emerging Russian tourists market in ASEAN.

Russia is indeed a growing source market for us with the average growth of 23% in tourist arrivals in the last five years. Russian tourist arrivals to ASEAN increased from 140,000 in 2005 to 509,000 in 2009. Several reasons account for this rise and they include ASEAN being one of the best value for money tourist attraction; increased flight connections between ASEAN cities and Russia, and of course, ASEAN’s unique attraction such as pristine beaches, cultural heritage, historical sites, other tourist attractions and friendly people.

With the positive development in tourism, enhancing communication skills of ASEAN tourist guides and tour operators is important to better cater to the needs of Russian tourists. The more Russian tourists are satisfies with our services, the more they would be promoting ASEAN as a tourist destination to their family, friends and neighbors.

I am sure, judging from the enthusiasm on your faces, that all of you would have benefitted much from this course. I hope you will use the knowledge and experiences gained from the in-class training as well as the two month online e-learning, which preceded this course in your daily work. I also hope that the networks you have established among yourselves and with your teachers will serve as a platform for continuous learning of the Russian language as well as the rich history and culture of Russia.

In this regard, I would like to propose that the online e-learning system be sustained and opened to other tour guides and operators to create opportunities for them to learn the Russian language and further support the emerging Russian tourist market in ASEAN. This will also lend support to the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2011-2015 that we are developing where one of the key thrust will be human resource development.

In closing, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the Government of Russia for its technical assistance provided to ASEAN tour operators and tourist guides through the ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership Financial Fund. My appreciation especially goes to the Russian State University for Tourism and Services and the teachers for their hard work in ensuring both the in-class and online lessons are conducted in a effective, creative and lively way. I would also like to express our sincere appreciation to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Indonesia for hosting this training and providing great hospitality and assistance to all participants from ASEAN Member States and the teachers from Russia. Last but not least, I wish to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia for initiating this Russian language course under the ASEAN-Russia dialogue relations, which will help to further promote people-to-people contacts between ASEAN and Russia.

Thank you.