ASEAN ministers speaking in a press conference during ASEAN Tourism Forum held at The Empire Brunei. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

ASEAN Tourism Ministers pledged to further develop ASEAN as a single tourism destination having identified focus areas that will enable ASEAN tourism sectors to contribute towards the region’s economic growth.

In a joint statement at the recent 23rd Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers, during the 39th ASEAN Tourism Forum, digital tourism was recognised as one of the key activities to be implemented starting this year, being identified as a mechanism that will enhance the tourist experience in accessing information and services.

“In this regard, the ministers endorsed the ASEAN NTOs’ initiative to develop a declaration on ASEAN digital tourism to be considered and adopted by the ASEAN Leaders at the 37th ASEAN Summit in Vietnam towards the end of 2020,” the statement read.

The ministers will also be undertaking the signing of a Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professional (MRA-TP) this year, to facilitate the enhancement of mobility for certified tourism professionals across and beyond the region, increasing the competitiveness of the tourism sector.

Delegates in discussion at various booths during the second day of the ASEAN Tourism Forum held at Bridex. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

The signing of the Protocol will enable the MRA-TP to expand the recognition of more professionals under other related tourism and hospitality industries and will spell the inclusion of the ASEAN Competency Standards for Spa Professionals.

In line with this, the ministers noted the progress on the implementation of the MRA-TP Work Plan 2019-2023 heeding the outcomes of the Regional Workshop on Reviewing and Updating ASEAN Common Competency Standard for Tourism Professionals (ACCSTP) held last year in Myanmar.

Recognizing the conducting of the National Consultation Meetings in ASEAN Countries as a follow up on the said workshop outcomes as an avenue to incorporate the views of national tourism stakeholders, they encouraged all ASEAN tourism stakeholders to fully engage the subsequent regional workshop held in March this year in Myanmar to consolidate and finalize the job titles and their competencies.

Furthermore, the ministers looked forward to the completion of the development of curriculum and toolboxes for the ASEAN Competency Standards for MICE and Event Professionals which cover 32 job titles.

The Malaysian pavilion during the ATF 2020 and TRAVEX event held in Bridex recently. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

They also noted the revamped ASEAN Tourism Professionals Registration System (ATPRS), which is expected to better facilitate the registration of tourism professionals and MRA-TP related stakeholders, serving as a job matching platform between tourism professionals and their potential employers across the region.

The tourism ministers further noted with satisfaction the progress of the implementation of the ASEAN Tourism Packages 2019-2020 which featured more than 130 tourism products covering multi-ASEAN destinations from 38 travel agents with 69 travel packages under the four overarching themes of the ATMS.

“The ministers acknowledged the great potential in attracting more tourists through numerous festivals in the region. In this regard, the ministers welcomed the development of festival tourism 2020 which highlighted the various unique festivals and activities in ASEAN member states throughout the year”.

The ministers also reiterated their commitment to further develop cruise tourism as highlighted in the ASEAN Declaration on Cruise Tourism and welcomed the progress made in the implementation of the ASEAN Cruise Work Plan 2019, including ASEAN’s collaboration at the world’s largest cruise trade show Seatrade Cruise Global 2019.

Delegates visiting various booths during the second day of the ASEAN Tourism Forum held at Bridex. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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