1. The Sixteenth Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers (16th M-ATM) was held on 20 January 2013 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, in conjunction with the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2013 (ATF 2013). The Meeting was preceded by the Thirty-Seventh Meeting of ASEAN National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) and other ASEAN NTOs meetings with Dialogue Partners. The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Professor Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism of Lao PDR, with Dato’ Dr. Ong Hong Peng, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, serving as Vice Chairperson.

2. The Ministers were pleased with the positive growth of international visitor arrivals into ASEAN in 2012. Preliminary figures submitted by all ASEAN Member States showed that ASEAN attracted more than 74.8 million visitors last year, posting a strong 10.14 per cent growth. Enhanced air connectivity, particularly the strong growth of Low-Cost Carriers within ASEAN has been a contributing factor in maintaining Intra-ASEAN travel as the major source market with the share of 46 per cent of total international arrivals, and this was followed by the influx of tourists from Asia with the share of 28 per cent.

3. The Ministers were satisfied with the implementation progress of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2011-2015, where 24 measures for 2011 and 2012 have been duly completed. The Ministers expressed their appreciation to all ASEAN tourism committees/working groups and lead coordinators of the respective measures for their efforts and contribution in facilitating the implementation of the ATSP 2011-2015. The Ministers agreed to further strengthen efforts to achieve the ATSP goals by 2015. In contributing to the establishment of ASEAN Community in 2015, the Ministers also agreed to continuously review the implementation of ATSP and identify new concrete measures to sustain the contribution of tourism to the ASEAN economies.

Greater Connectivity within and beyond ASEAN
4. The Ministers were pleased to note the implementation progress of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) measures that would further facilitate ASEAN tourism development. The Ministers also welcomed the effective implementation of the Declaration of the 6th East Asia Summit (EAS) on ASEAN Connectivity and the finalisation of ASEAN Plus Three Partnership on Connectivity.

5. The Ministers were encouraged with the progress of the establishment of the ASEAN Single Aviation Market (ASAM) through the adoption of its implementation framework, which charts out the strategy, milestones and necessary mechanisms for the realisation of the ASAM. The Ministers welcomed the conclusion of negotiations on Protocol 2 on the exchange of 5th freedom air traffic rights between ASEAN Member States and China under the ASEAN-China Air Transport Agreement that would create more air accessibility by exercising 5th freedom traffic rights amongst cities in ASEAN and China. This development will further enhance business and leisure travel connectivity. The Ministers looked forward to its signing at the earliest opportunity.

6. The Ministers welcomed the development of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Cross Border Transport of Passenger (CBTP) that would facilitate cross border road transport of people between and among ASEAN Member States through simplification and harmonisation of transport procedures and requirements.

7. The Ministers also welcomed the progress made in the study on ASEAN common visa for non-ASEAN nationals including the convening of the Regional Workshop on ASEAN Common Visa held on 18-19 July 2012 in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the establishment of the Joint Working Group on the ASEAN Common Visa (JWGACV). The Ministers tasked their officials to be actively involved in the Working Group, particularly in identifying challenges and opportunities in developing the ASEAN Common Visa, as well as implications to tourism sector.

Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals
8. The Ministers welcomed the signing of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on Tourism Professionals by Thailand on 9 November 2012 in Bangkok. The MRA is one of the key ASEAN tourism initiatives to support the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community 2015. The purposes of this MRA mechanism are to facilitate mobility of tourism professionals within ASEAN based on tourism competency qualification/certificate, and at the same time, improve the quality of services delivered by tourism professionals. There are 32 job titles covered under this MRA, ranging from housekeeping, front office, food and beverages services and food production for hotel division, to travel agencies and tour operator for travel division.

9. The Ministers were pleased with the completion of the development of Toolboxes for Priority Tourism Labour Divisions, whereby 46 toolboxes covering common and generic competencies across all six (6) Labour Divisions and specific units for Housekeeping Division were developed. The completion of those toolboxes was followed by the successful convening of the Training of ASEAN Master Trainers and Master Assessors for Housekeeping Division held on 13 November – 14 December 2012 in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. The Ministers were pleased that ASEAN now has 27 ASEAN Tourism Master Trainers and 30 ASEAN Tourism Master Assessors.  The Ministers encouraged all Member States to train more Master Trainers and Master Assessors to ensure smooth implementation of MRA on Tourism Professionals. With the readiness of MRA supporting components and completion of those necessary infrastructures, the Ministers agreed to begin pilot implementation of this MRA for the housekeeping division by next year.

10. In order to provide effective facilitation and monitoring support for the implementation of the MRA on Tourism Professionals, the Ministers supported the recommendation to establish a Regional Secretariat for ASEAN Tourism Professionals, and agreed to select Indonesia as the host of the Secretariat.  The Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Government of Australia for the technical assistance extended for the implementation of this important initiative through the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Programme (AADCP).

Ensuring Quality of Tourism
11. The Ministers endorsed the Guidelines for ASEAN Public Toilet Standard and ASEAN Clean Tourist City Standard as well as audit criteria, method and guidance for ASEAN Green Hotel, ASEAN Spa Service and ASEAN Homestay Standards. Implementation of the Guidelines would enhance quality of these tourism establishments, which in turn would contribute to the enhancement of the regional tourism sector’s competitiveness, attractiveness as well its sustainability. The Ministers tasked their officials to develop the mechanism guidelines, including capacity building for auditor and pilot testing those standards.

12. As a collective effort in the response to the global climate change, the Ministers noted the outcomes of the “ASEAN Climate Change and Tourism Workshop” held on 11-12 September 2012 in Legazpi City, the Philippines. The Ministers agreed to task their officials to develop an ASEAN Tourism Roadmap outlining measures, parameters as well as cooperative programs and activities in responding to climate change issues.

13. The Ministers acknowledged the progress made in the implementation of the ASEAN Tourism Security and Safety Guidelines initiative, particularly on the establishment of the ASEAN Tourism Security and Safety Online Resources Centre (www.aseantssrc.org), which include Guidelines, Best Practice Examples and Background Papers.

14. Recognizing the important role of tourism as an effective instrument for alleviation of poverty, improvement of people’s quality of life and its contribution to economic and social development, the Ministers took note of the progress in the drafting of an ASEAN Joint Declaration on the Implementation of Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, and tasked the Senior Officials to finalise it for adoption in the near future.

ASEAN Tourism Marketing Strategy
15. The Ministers were pleased with the implementation progress of the ASEAN Tourism Marketing Strategy 2012-2015, particularly through the completion of the development of the tourism digital campaign for China (www.dongnanya.travel) and its supporting online activities, the development of the experiential and creative market campaign and distribution strategy, and ASEAN tourism raising awareness through press releases and blogs.

16. The Ministers agreed to launch the “ASEAN for ASEAN” activities to further encourage nationals of ASEAN Member States to visit other ASEAN Member States through organising travel/tourism fairs, seminars, conferences and other related activities promoting ASEAN tourism.  In further supporting “ASEAN for ASEAN” campaign, the new ASEAN tourism website (www.aseantourism.travel) was launched with the objectives to strengthen ASEAN Tourism information flows within the region, facilitate direct exchange of information between ASEAN NTOs and stakeholders and enhance awareness about ASEAN tourism cooperation activities. The Ministers were pleased to note the result of the convening of the ASEAN Food Festival on 18-20 September 2012 in Yogyakarta as regular event.

17. The Ministers acknowledged the ASEAN Promotional Chapter for Tourism (APCT) activities in Sydney in 2012 through participation in major tourism consumer shows and networking functions in Australia, as well as APCT Mumbai’s activities in 2012, with its focus on print and online campaigns and partnerships with local stakeholders

ASEAN Tourism Product Development
18. The Ministers were pleased with the progress of joint collaboration in further developing four main ASEAN tourism products, namely: nature, cultural and heritage, community, and cruise and river-based tourism. The Ministers supported the development of an ASEAN Ecotourism Strategic Plan that would recommend policies, strategies and action plans to improve the planning, management and operation of eco-tourism sites, products and services in ASEAN.

19. The Ministers welcomed the results of the International Cruise Tourism Workshop under the theme of “Opportunities and Challenges of Cruise Tourism in Southeast Asia” held on 12 April 2012 in Bali, Indonesia, attended by key players in the cruise value chain, such as transport, maritime, cruise lines and cruise associations. The Ministers encouraged all Member States to overcome the challenges in developing cruise industry in the region, particularly on the infrastructure requirements and quality of services in every destination.

20. The Ministers were pleased with the success of the ASEAN Tourism Investment Forum (ATIF) 2012 held on 7-8 November 2012 in Lombok, Indonesia. The Ministers welcomed the convening of ATIF 2014 in Cambodia.

Cooperation with ASEAN Centres
21. The Ministers expressed appreciation to the ASEAN-China Centre, ASEAN-Japan Centre and ASEAN-Korea Centre for their efforts in providing continuous support and technical assistance to the development of ASEAN tourism sector, including promoting ASEAN tourism to respective Chinese, Japanese and Korean markets and strengthening product development.

ASEAN Tourism Forum
22. The ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) held on 18-24 January 2012 in Vientiane with the theme: “ASEAN: Hand in Hand, Conquering Our Future” was attended by 459 international buyers and 989 sellers with 495 booths in ASEAN. The Ministers acknowledged the partnership with CNN International and CNBC as the Official Sponsor for ATF 2013.

23. The ATF 2014 will be convened in Kuching, Malaysia on 16-23 January 2014 with “ASEAN: Advancing Tourism Together” as the theme. Myanmar provided confirmation to be the host of ATF 2015.

24. The Ministers expressed their sincere appreciation to the Government and People of Lao PDR for the warm hospitality accorded to the delegations and the excellent arrangements made for the Meetings.

The Meeting was attended by:

(i) H.E. Pehin Dato Yahya, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam;

(ii) H.E. Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, Cambodia;

(iii) Mr. I Gusti Putu Laksaguna, Inspector General of Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy Indonesia, representing H.E. Dr. Mari Elka Pangestu, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesia;

(iv) H.E. Prof. Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lao PDR;

(v) Dato’ Dr. Ong Hong Peng, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia representing H.E. Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen, Minister of Tourism, Malaysia;

(vi) U Aung Zaw Win, Director General of Directorate of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar representing H.E. Mr. Htay Aung, Minister for Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar;

(vii) H.E. Mr. Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. Secretary of Tourism, Philippines;

(viii) Mr. Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive,  Singapore Tourism Board, representing H.E. Mr. S. Iswaran, Second Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore;

(ix) H.E. Mr. Sombat Kuruphan, Vice Minister for Tourism and Sports, Thailand;

(x) H.E. Mr. Ho Anh Tuan, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of Viet Nam; and

(xi) H.E. Mr. Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of ASEAN.