ASEAN@50 Round Table

Major initiative announced to create cross border packages within the region

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 in 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.

Although the 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 Tourism Malaysia’s Mirza Mohammad Taiyab.

“The ultimate target is to have an 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.

The Philippines undersecretary of State however pointed to visible progress already implementing by ASEAN countries: “Almost all ASEAN citizens can go from one country to another without a visa while there has been a marked improvement of international air connections to secondary ASEAN destinations.”

“We are now strengthening our communication efforts to make ASEAN better known across the globe. Cruise tourism, eco-tourism, homestay and gastronomy are among common marketing activities”, added Taiyab