Good Will but Tight Budget and Visa Issues to Promote Effectively ASEAN Tourism

A roundtable was organised on March 9 at ITB Berlin with Philippines Deputy State Secretary for Tourism Rolando Canizal and Malaysia’s Director General of Tourism, Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab to look at progress on the promotion of ASEAN around the world.

ASEAN this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, and tourism is a big part of the celebration. A performance and an official ceremony was organised during ITB Berlin 2017 in the presence of Ministers of Tourism from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, Deputy Minister of Cambodia as well as General or Regional Directors of NTOs from Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam.

The event underlined the launching of 50 special packages for the 50th anniversary under its “ASEAN@50 Golden Celebration”, highlighting Southeast Asia’s natural assets, eco-tourism, community-based tourism, culture, history, gastronomy and adventure holidays.

“This is a major initiative across all of ASEAN, to package together our region”, stressed Philippines Deputy State Secretary Canizal. The packages represent 50 cross-border travel experiences in Southeast Asia that showcase the region’s rich diversity and promote multi- destination travel within ASEAN.

Travel within Southeast Asia is easier than ever explained both Mirza Moghammad taiyab from Tourism Malaysia and Rolondo Canizal. Particularly due to the development of air routes linking secondary destinations to international gateways. Two dozens of these routes have been created in the past three years.

Although the promotional effort is consistent, ASEAN as an entity faces difficulties to present itself as a united force on international markets. “This is a long-term task to bundle our resources together to participate at events in some specific markets. Although I do not foresee in the short term an ASEAN common booth, we now try to locate Southeast Asian destinations all together in one area and organise common events”, explained Mirza Mohammad Taiyab.

Both Canizal and Tayeb admit that ASEAN tourism entity lacks financial resources to assert its presence and strengthen the political entity image. “Our budget is limited as we all depend from the contribution of each member. And some of the members still see other ASEAN countries rather as competitors than partners”, admits Tayab.

“The ultimate target is to have a common ASEAN tourism offer. But we still face difficulties. We for example need to improve our infrastructure to propose smooth cross- border travel experiences to our guests. And we continue to work at ways to unify visa entry conditions and ultimately have an ASEAN common visa for non-ASEAN citizens”, added Canizal. A unified visa policy would definitely help fosteringmulti-country travels as non-ASEAN visitors would not have to worry anymore about entry conditions in each country.

(Source: ITB Berlin News)