We, the Tourism Ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), attending the Seventh Meeting of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers in Vientiane, Lao PDR on 3 February 2004;

RECALLING the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II signed by the ASEAN Leaders at the Ninth ASEAN Summit on 7 October 2003 in Bali, Indonesia to establish an ASEAN Community for a closer and mutually beneficial integration among ASEAN Member Countries and among their peoples;

RECALLING also the decision of the ASEAN Leaders during the Ninth ASEAN Summit that Tourism is a priority sector for integration of ASEAN; 

MINDFUL of the objectives of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) signed on 15 December 1995 in Bangkok, Thailand and the Protocol to amend the AFAS signed on 2 September 2003 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for services liberalization in ASEAN;

REAFFIRMING our commitment to implement the ASEAN Tourism Agreement signed by the ASEAN Leaders at the Eighth ASEAN Summit on 4 November 2002 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia;

REITERATING the importance of tourism as a significant industry in the promotion of economic benefits and social unity, which among others, provides employment opportunities thereby alleviating poverty, improving the quality of lives among nationals of the ASEAN Member Countries and promoting friendship, networking and widening of the perspectives among nations;

RECOGNIZING that terrorism and the outbreaks of communicable diseases are direct challenges to tourism, and that tourism growth remains upbeat.

DO HEREBY DECLARE TO:

1. UNDERTAKE specific measures to expedite the implementation of the ASEAN Tourism Agreement, particularly the visa exemption initiative to increase tourist travel in ASEAN in accordance with the Leaders’ decision at the Bali Summit in October 2003;

2. ADVANCE integration of tourism in accordance with the ASEAN Concord II by 2010 through development of ASEAN Tourism Vision and a roadmap to achieve the target of integration;

3. ASSIST new members towards the integrated ASEAN tourism through provision of technical assistance, among others, in the areas of capacity building, human resources development, promotion of investment and protection of environment and cultural heritage.

4. WORK closely with relevant ASEAN bodies and agencies in our Member Countries to ensure coherence of policies and initiatives related to tourism development in ASEAN and to adopt appropriate measures to prevent all threats to tourism;

5. STRENGTHEN our partnership with the private sector such as travel agencies, airlines, hotels and tourism related establishments as well as media,  other countries and international organizations in advancing the tourism development in ASEAN;

6. WORK closely with the ASEAN Secretariat, the ASEAN NTOs and  the private tourism associations and groups such as ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA), Federation of ASEAN Travel Association (FATA) and ASEAN Hotel & Restaurant Association (AHRA) to ensure that that all the above decisions are implemented with efficiency and urgency;

7. REQUEST the ASEAN Secretariat to be the main coordinator for the implementation of Tourism Cooperation Programmes and Initiatives and to strengthen cooperation with the private sector for activities where the private sector could play a leading role.

IN PURSUANCE THEREOF, WE HEREBY AGREE TO:

1.          ADOPT the Implementation Plan for the ASEAN Tourism Agreement.

2.       “SOFT-LAUNCH” the Third-Phase of Visit ASEAN Campaign (VAC) to further promote intra-ASEAN travel.

3.       INSTRUCT ASEAN NTOs, in cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat and the private sector, to implement this Declaration.

Done in Vientiane, Lao PDR, on the Third Day of February in the Year Two Thousand and Four.