- The First Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers was held on 10 January 1998 in Mactan, Cebu, Philippines and was preceded by the Seventh Meeting of ASEAN National Tourism Organisations (ASEAN NTOS) held on 9 – 10 January 1998. The ASEAN NTOs also held an Informal Consultation with the senior tourism officials of the CER countries (Australia and New Zealand) on 10 January 1998. All the Meetings were held in conjunction with the on-going ASEAN Tourism Forum 1998 (ATF ’98).
- The ASEAN Tourism Ministers have had three informal meetings held at the annual ATFs; in Bangkok in January 1995, in Surabaya in January 1996, and in Kuala Lumpur in January 1997. in Kuala Lumpur, the Ministers agreed to report to their respective governments to transform their informal meeting into a formal one, to demonstrate their common resolve to give ASEAN cooperation in tourism top-level direction, guidance, impetus and strength.
- The first formal Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers was chaired by H.E. Mina T. Gabor, Secretary of Tourism of the Philippines, with H.E. BG (NS) George Yong-Boon Yeo, Minister for Information and the Arts and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore, as Vice-Chairman. The Meeting was attended by:
- a. H.E. Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Taib, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Derussalam;
b. H.E.Mr. Joop Ave, Minister of Tourism, Post and Telecommunications, Indonesia;
c. H. E.Mr. Khamsay Souphanouvong, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, Lao People’s Democratic Republic;
d. Mr. Shahril B. Saat, Undersecretary, Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism, on behalf of H.E. Dato’ Sabbaruddin Chik, Minister ot Culture, Arts and Tourism, Malaysia;
e. H.E.Major General Saw Lwin, Minister of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar;
f. H.E. Mr. Jurin Laksanawisit, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, Thailand;
g. H.E. Mdm. Vo Thi Thang, Chairperson of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Vietnam; and
h. Dr. Suthad Setboonsarng, Depuy Secretary-General on behalf of H.E. Mr. Rodolfo C. Severino, Jr., Secretary-General of ASEAN; and members of their respective delegations.
- H.E. Mr. Pou Sovachanay, Under Secretary of State of Tourism of Cambodia and his delegation attended as Observers.
Goals of Enhanced ASEAN cooperation in Tourism
- The Ministers noted that ASEAN tourism accounted for 4.4. per cent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and about 9.1 per cent of ASEAN total exports, respectively, in 1996. The Ministers also noted that there were 30.95 million international tourist arrivals to ASEAN in 1996, with 4.4 per cent increase over the 1995 level of 29.64 million; and tourism revenues were US$ 30.87 billion, an increase of US$ 3.32 billion over the 1995’s receipts of US$ 27.55 billion.
- The Ministers reaffirmed the strategic role of the Tourism Sector in the overall economic growth and employment generation of the Member Countries, in particular, and of the ASEAN region, in general. The Ministers noted that in the ASEAN Vision 2020, the ASEAN Leaders emphasized, among others, the need to advance economic integration and cooperation, the protection of the region’s environment, and the creation of a stable, prosperous and highly competitive ASEAN Economic Region where there is free flow of goods, services and investment. In this regard, the Ministers strongly expressed confidence that, with their collective resolve for enhanced cooperation, the Tourism Sector shall be among the important services sectors that will contribute to the achievement of the ASEAN vision for the next millennium.i. Ministerial Understanding on ASEAN Cooperation in Tourism
- The Ministers signed a Ministerial Understanding that embodies their collective commitmnent, will and determination, to achieve a more focused goal for tourism cooperation among ASEAN Member Countries. These goals are to market the ASEAN region as a collective tourist destination, encourage free trade and investments in tourism, and facilitate intra-ASEAN travel.ii. Plan of Action on ASEAN Cooperation in Tourism
- The Ministers adopted the Plan of Action on ASEAN Cooperation in Tourism as the strategic document to provide greater tourism interaction and cooperation and bind Member Countries into a cohesive tourism alliance into the 21st century. The Ministers expressed support to the ASEAN NTOs and their senior officials in pursuing the following priority strategic actions for ASEAN tourism cooperation:a. Marketing the ASEAN Region as a Single Tourism Destination;
- Visit ASEAN Millennium Year
- Top-level Tourism Marketing Conference
b. Encouraging Tourism lnvestments;
- Tourism Investment Guide
- Liberalisation of Trade in Tourism
c. Tourism Manpower Development;
- Networking of Training Centres
- National Satellite Accounting System
- Training of Travelers
d. Environmentally Sustainable Tourism; and
- Eco – Tourism Promotion
e. Facilitating lntra-ASEAN Travel.
- Cruise Tourism
iii. Private Sector participation
- The Ministers emphasized the active involvement and participation of the ASEAN private sector including ASEANTA, as among the key elements in the successful implementation of the Plan of Action. Towards this end, the Ministers urged the private sector to take a more pro-active part in the formulation of the detailed programmes and activities, and subsequent implementation of the Plan of Action, and in particular, in the areas of joint marketing and promotion, investment promotion and human resources development.
Tourism Sectoral Negotation under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services
- The Ministers noted that the initial package of commitments had been endorsed by the 29th Meeting of ASEAN Economic Ministers (29th AEM) held in Subang Jaya, Malaysia on 16 0ctober 1997 for implementation no later than 31 March 1998. The Ministers also noted that a Protocol to Implement the Initial Package of Commitments under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services was subsequently signed by the AEM on 15 December 1997 during the Second ASEAN Informal Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Ministers welcomed with interest, that among the seven sectoral negotiating groups, the Tourism Sector was the first services sector where all ASEAN Member Countries had made specific commitments for further liberalisation.
- The Ministers further noted that a second phase of negotiations will shortly commence for a final package of commitments to be completed by 31 December 1998. In this regard, the Ministers urged the ASEAN NTOs to sustain the momentum of the Tourism Secioral Negotiation, with the view to further improve the existing package and to provide additional offers for the final package.
ASEAN Communications Team for Tourism (ACTT)
- The Ministers agreed to the formal establishment of the ASEAN Communication Team for Tourism (ACTT) under the aegis of the ASEAN NTOs. The Chair will rotate among the ASEAN NTOs on a yearly basis, and Singapore shall be the Chairman of this grouping for its first year. In particular, the Ministers commended the ASEAN NTOs and ACTT for their weekly joint advisories on the haze situation. These helped to provide the actual situation in the various ASEAN destinations to the international travel trade and media.
AFTA – CER Linkage: Cooperation in Tourism
- The Ministers noted that an Informal Consultation between the ASEAN NTOs and senior CER (Australia – New Zealand) tourism officials was held on 10 January 1998. In noting that some ASEAN Member Countries have tourism links with the CER countries on a bilateral basis, the Ministers noted that at the regional level, the ASEAN NTOs will pursue with the CER countries the following cooperative activities:
- a. information sharing and investment promotion;
b. joint marketing programmes to further enhance two-way tourism; and
c. education and training.
ASEAN Curency Crisis and Haze Situation
- The Minisiers discussed the consequential impacts of the currency crisis and smoke, haze in the region caused by land and forest fires on their respective tourism industry. The Ministers expressed regret that he currency crisis and the smoke haze contributed to the sharp decline in tourist arrivals to ASEAN during the period August – November 1997. The Ministers, however, expressed optimism that with the dissipation of the smoke haze, the currency crisis will provide the opportunities for increased arrivals from long-haul markets as the ASEAN region has become more internationally competitive and a very-price attractive tourism destination.
- The Ministers welcomed the recent efforts of the ASEAN Environment Ministers during the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Haze held on 22 – 23 December 1997 in Singapore. The Ministerial Meeting on the Haze agreed to intensify cooperation and develop measures to prevent a recurrence of smoke haze, with the implementation of a Regional Haze Action Plan, among others.
- The Ministers exchanged views and encouraged the possible use of the respective local currency for quoting local tariff or rates for the tourism and other related facilities and services for ASEAN travelers.
ATF’ 99, Singapore
- The Ministers noted that the ASEAN Tourism Forum 1999 (ATF ’99) will be held on 25 January – 1 February 1999 in Singapore.
- The Ministers agreed to hold the Second Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers on 27 January 1999 in Singapore during the ASEAN Tourism Forum 1999 (ATF ’99).
- The Meeting was held in the traditional spirit of ASEAN cordiality and solidarity.