SINGAPORE –Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday launched the “Visit ASEAN@50” campaign to promote ASEAN as a single and unified travel destination during the Opening Gala of ASEAN Tourism Forum 2017.
Lee called the initiative “an entirely achievable objective”, which aims to increase the number of international arrivals by 10 percent to 121 million, and urged ASEAN countries to work together.
“Tourism is one area where by working together, we can get win-win benefits, growing our economies, creating jobs, and drawing our peoples together,” said Lee, adding there is huge potential in tourism.
Noting that ASEAN itself offers an enormous richness of attractions and the middle class in ASEAN countries is growing fast, the prime minister said beyond jointly marketing campaigns and promotions, ASEAN countries need to do hard work, overcome problems and build capabilities, thus creating the basis for a vibrant tourism industry.
Lee also suggested three things need to be done to make a difference. Firstly, ASEAN countries should continue to strengthen air links as affordable and convenient air travel is one of the most important factors driving tourism growth.
Secondly, ASEAN countries can build up cruise tourism, which has immense potential for development and needs multi-lateral efforts.
In addition, Lee stressed talent, saying workers in ASEAN countries need to develop specific skills to deliver the high standards for international tourists.
In his opening speech, Lee also told the forum the spirit of regional cooperation is “all the more” important in these uncertain times.
“In this uncertain global environment, ASEAN is an important life raft for all of us,” said Lee. “While ASEAN has made significant progress, there is a lot more work to be done.”
Themed on “Shaping our Tourism Journey Together”, the five-day tourism forum involves ASEAN National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) Meetings, ASEAN Tourism Ministers’ Meeting, ASEAN Tourism Conference as well as exhibitions on tourism etc.
Established in 1981, the annual ASEAN Tourism Forum is a useful platform for the region’s tourism ministers, government officials and travel industry players to come together and discuss ways to further stimulate tourism growth.