For 2016, ASEAN is expected to welcome 116 million international visitors, a growth of 6.5 per cent from 2015. The arrivals were dominated by intra-ASEAN travel, accounting for 43 per cent of total international arrivals in 2015, followed by Asia (excluding ASEAN) at 36 per cent. With strong commitment of ASEAN Member States and partners, ASEAN is confident to exceed the target of 121 million international tourist arrivals to the region in 2017.

In commemorating the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN in 2017, Visit ASEAN@50 Golden Celebration Campaign was launched by the ASEAN Tourism Ministers to jointly showcase the region’s rich diversity and promote ASEAN as a single tourism destination. Visit ASEAN@50 campaign will provide ASEAN travel deals and multi-country packages ranging from 2 to 26 nights created by leading tour operators and cruise lines in Southeast Asia to entice travellers to visit the region. A Visit ASEAN@50 microsite (www.visitasean50.com) was launched in early November 2016. Several international partners have also pledged support for the Campaign, including, among others, the ASEAN-China Centre (ACC), ASEAN-Japan Centre (AJC), ASEAN-Korea Centre (AKC), ASEANTA, AirAsia, Mastercard, TTG, and GoASEAN.

On 8 & 9 August 2016, the International Conference on Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals (MRA-TP) was held in Jakarta addressing a wide range of topics on the MRA-TP initiative, namely expansion of the MRA-TP, usage of English as a basic communication, facilitate and support potential participation of training and educational institutions, and strengthening collaboration amongst industries, training and educational institutions, and governments. Furthermore, the ASEAN Tourism Professionals Registration System (ATPRS), www.atprs.org, a web-based portal to facilitate the registration of tourism professionals and MRA-TP related stakeholders and serve as a matchmaking mechanism between tourism professionals and their potential employers, was officially launched during the International Conference.

At the ASEAN Homestay Award Ceremony 2017, organised on 20 January 2017, a total of 28 homestay establishments in the region were honored with the Awards for their efforts in increasing the quality of services, facilities and human capital in their homestay programmes taking into consideration the needs, capability and cultural diversity of ASEAN Member States. At the same time, during the first ASEAN Community Based Tourism (CBT) Award Ceremony, as much as 26 CBT Committees received the Awards for the coordinated management of tourism products offered by communities under the organisation of their committees. In addition, the ASEAN Public Toilet Award Ceremony, the ASEAN Clean Tourist City Award Ceremony, the ASEAN Spa Services Award Ceremony, and the ASEAN MICE Venue Award Ceremony will altogether be held for the first time in 2018.

Promotion and marketing of ASEAN tourism were conducted through websites, events, social media marketing, public relations and partnerships with the private sector and ASEAN centres. ASEAN Tourism website (www.aseantourism.travel) is enhanced continuously and “ASEAN for ASEAN” activities are carried out regularly by ASEAN Member States.

The ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2017 held on 16-20 January 2017 in Singapore, with the theme “Shaping our Tourism Journey Together” was attended by 324 buyers and 355 exhibitors. The ATF 2018 (http://atfthailand2018.com) will be held on 22-26 January 2018 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with the theme “ASEAN – Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity”.