More than just another travel mart, the annual ASEAN
Tourism Forum (ATF) provides a platform for the discussion of ongoing issues
facing the tourism industry with the ten national tourism organizations
(NTO’s) from ASEAN.
senior minister H.E. Veng Sereyvuth from the Ministry of Tourism.
South East Asia represents one of the fastest growing
tourism markets in the world and it looks obvious that this trend will
continue into the next coming years. The ASEAN member nations offer
unlimited variety in terms of culture, history, landscape, flora and fauna,
making the region Asia’s perfect 10 paradise.
This year’s ATF2004 was held in Vientiane, Laos, with
NTO’s from Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia and Myanmar. Lim Neo Chian,
deputy chairman and chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB),
said that despite the economic challenges and uncertainties, which
confronted the tourism industry after SARS, Singapore aims to restore
performance to 2002 levels and targets to achieve 7.6 million visitor
arrivals. STB will focus on healthcare, education and 24 hours public
entertainment. Also, it will launch its campaign ‘Uniquely Singapore’ at
ITB in Berlin on March 12-16, this year.
Stoll, general manager of the Furama Beach Hotel in Danang, introduced the
World Heritage Road project.
Cambodian senior minister H.E. Veng Sereyvuth from the
Ministry of Tourism emphasized a vibrant and diverse market and is banking
on a sophisticated future. With a marketing budget of 1 million USD and a
target of 1 million visitors in 2004, there will be the development of the
infrastructure between Poipet and Siem Reap, the opening of Sihanoukville
Airport in April 2004, marine development to attract international cruise
ships to come and the making of the northeastern province Rattankiri as a
center of eco-tourism.
Indonesia, represented by Udin Saifuddin, deputy minister
for marketing, and Hamdan Rivai, director of overseas promotion, even offers
small islands to investors to halt the slump of visitor arrivals. With the
new branding as Indonesia, Ultimate in Diversity, the target is 5 million
visitors, injecting 5 billion USD in foreign currency needed for development
efforts. There are also new entry regulations concerning free visa and
Myanmar, a member of ASEAN since 1997, is even
introducing an e-visa for visa-on-arrival. With no world heritage sites yet
declared, Myanmar suffers from economic sanctions since 1996, but U Khin
Maung Latt, director general of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism proudly
announced the permanent opening of 6 checkpoints with China, 5 with Thailand
and 1 each with Laos and India. Very important is the cease-fire agreement
with the Karen National Union (KNU) to develop the ambitious East-West
Malaysia under the chairmanship of Datuk Abdullah Jonid,
director general of Tourism Malaysia, announced 10.5 million visitors in the
crisis year of 2003 and registered a decline of more than 20 percent
compared to 2002. To stimulate the growth of tourism, Malaysia will
officially organize a special Visit Malaysia campaign during the years of
2005 and 2006 with a focus on the MICE market. In 2005, both ATF and PATA
Travel Mart will be in Malaysia.
Lao PDR gave a comprehensive overview of its tourism
development plan and advertised a green industry and Laos as the best place
in ASEAN to relax by ambassador Vang Rattanavong, first vice-chairman of Lao
NTO, Prime Minister’s office. Since the open door policy in 1986, the
development of the tourist sector is steadily improving and can easily reach
1 million visitors in 2004. Laos is an ideal land bridge between Thailand
and Vietnam and between China, Thailand and Cambodia.
Attractions include Khon Phapheng and Liphi waterfalls in
the southern part of the country which are the largest waterfalls in
Southeast Asia. Other attractions are the stone forest and the Konglor
underground river in Khammouan Province.
As H.E. Richard Gordon recently resigned as minister of
tourism, the Philippines were represented by Oscar P. Palabyab,
undersecretary for tourism services and regional offices, Department of
Tourism. With the Wealth of Wonders (WOW) battle cry, 2003 has been a
favorable year for the country’s tourism industry despite SARS and the
Iraq War, because the World tourism Organization, now as an arm of the UN,
had luckily declared 2003 as Visit Philippines year. This will continue to
June 2004 with the capital Manila, the site of yearlong activities featuring
the best of the best attractions from the country’s 16 regions.
Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed, director of Brunei
Tourism, and his tourism expert officer Jean Christophe Robles referred to
their budget of 14 million USD for tourism, and Brunei is welcoming
journalists to survey the oil-rich Muslim enclave situated between Malaysian
Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo Island. It is interesting to note that Brunei is
curtailing the visitor arrivals to only 100,000 to counterbalance the
negative image of mass tourism and to protect their fragile environment.
What a difference to Thailand which recently announced a
target 30 million visitors by the year 2010. Suraphon Svetasreni, Deputy
Governor for Public Relations of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
recorded a total of 9.95 million visitors of the kingdom in 2003 and
declared that Thailand will become the tourism capital of Asia by 2006.
Thailand’s popularity amongst young and independent
travelers has taken a giant step forward by being voted their most favorite
travel destination according to a Lonely Planet guidebook poll.
Last not least, Vietnam concluded that like in Thailand
the emerging bird flu problem will be contained and that some cancellations
are only temporary. Vietnam has chosen the year 2004 to be Visit Dien Bien
Phu Year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the battle victory over
colonial France. H.E. Dr. Pham Tu, minister of tourism and head of his
delegation, introduced German Paul Stoll, general manager of the Furama
Beach Hotel in Danang, to highlight the World Heritage Road as a 1900
kilometers theme road, running from Vinh in the north of Vietnam to Dalat in
the southern highlands. Road tourism will create a new dimension of
traveling in the future and will certainly attract more of the two million
foreign and 13 million domestic travelers in Vietnam.
For further information, please contact GMS media travel consultant
Reinhard Hohler by email [email protected] cmnet.co.th