West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) scenic Island of Lombok hosted an ASEAN Ministerial Meeting Retreat on January 15-17, 2011 which was participated in by foreign ministers from 10 ASEAN member nations – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, The Philippines, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos.
The meeting was preceded by several other ASEAN meetings including the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting and Media Workshop on “Indonesia and ASEAN Community 2015″.
“Of course, they (the meetings’ participants) will tell about the tourism potential of Lombok Island, NTB, to the people in their respective countries. They could become a kind of tourism envoys for this region,” Indonesian Ambassador to ASEAN I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, said in Lombok recently, explaining the reason for holding the ASEAN meetings on the beautiful island not far from Bali.
Promoting ASEAN member countries’ tourist destinations to fellow ASEAN residents is in line with “ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2011-2015″ adopted in the 14th Meeting of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on January 17, 2011.
The ATSP is expected to contribute to the overall goals of the ASEAN Community by 2015 through promotion of growth, integration and competitiveness of the tourism sector and at the same time deepen social and cultural understanding as well as facilitating travel into and within ASEAN.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa in Jakarta recently said that Indonesia, as the current chairman of ASEAN, would make sure a significant progress towards the formation of the ASEAN Community 2015.
ASEAN aims to provide its visitors increased quality of services, better connected cities, and safer and a more secure environment when the ASEAN Community is established by 2015.
The ATSP is also expected to promote the region as a single tourist destination, develop a set of ASEAN tourism standards with a certification process, enable tourism professionals to work in any of the ASEAN Member States and allow visitors to travel throughout ASEAN with a single visa, according to a statement of the Jakarta-based ASEAN Secretariat on Friday (Jan 21, 2011).
China, Japan and the Republic of Korea have expressed their support to the ATSP and willingness to provide their assistance to ASEAN to ensure its successful implementation, said the statement.
The three nations participated in the 10th Meeting of the ASEAN Plus Three Tourism Ministers which was also held in Phnom Penh recently.
ASEAN is undertaking a series of projects to ensure a physically well-connected ASEAN. It has recently granted increased flexibility to ASEAN`s designated airlines that allow them to fly and carry traffic from any ASEAN cities with an international airport to its counterpart in other member states, while ensuring the full third, fourth and fifth freedom traffic rights.
The third freedom traffic rights allow an airline to fly and carry traffic from one’s own country to another; the fourth provides for the reverse; while the fifth enables an airline to fly and carry traffic between two foreign countries with flights originating or ending in one’s own country, according to information from the ASEAN Secretariat.
The 14th ASEAN tourism minister meeting was coincided with the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) held in Phnom Penh, January 15-21, 2011, with the theme: “ASEAN- a World of Wonders and Diversity”, and was officially opened Prime Minister of Cambodia, Samdech Hun Sen.
The Forum was attended by more than 442 international buyers and more than 380 sellers with 512 booths in ASEAN, and with CNN International as the “Official International Cable and Satellite Media Partner” for ATF 2011.
The ATF 2012 will be convened in Manado, Indonesia on January 9-15, 2012 with “ASEAN Tourism for a Global Community of Nations” as the theme. Lao PDR confirmed to be the host of ATF 2013.
Last year ASEAN attracted more than 65 million visitors, posting a healthy 12% growth. Intra-ASEAN travel, meanwhile, continued to be a major share of tourists, making up 45% of total international arrivals.
Indonesian Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik in the Phnom Penh meeting again promoted his idea called “ASEAN for ASEAN” to boost inter-ASAN tourist arrivals.
He introduced his “ASEAN for ASEAN” idea for the first time in an ASEAN meeting in Vietnam in 2009, according to a press statement of the culture and tourism ministry in Jakarta early this week.
“I personally ask the Vietnam government to encourage its people to visit Indonesia. On the other hand, we also convince our people to visit Vietnam,” Minister Jero Wacik was quoted as saying by Kompas.com.
The Indonesian government recently announced its target of attracting 7.7 million foreign tourists into the country in 2011, up about 10 percent from 7,000,571 arrivals in 2010.
According to Minister Wacik, with the number of 7,00,571 foreign tourists arriving in 2010, Indonesia was able to collect a foreign exchange of US$7.6 billion.
Indonesia officially launched “Wonderful Indonesia” as the country’s tourism campaign slogan at the ASEAN Tourism Ministers forum in Cambodia recently.
“The slogan will be used for the next two years, and has received positive responses so far,” Minister Jero Wacik said.
“Wonderful Indonesia” is good because Indonesia does have wonderful, beautiful nature, wonderful cultures, wonderful people and wonderful food “? so we deserve to be called wonderful,” the minister told reporters in Jakarta recently.
For Thailand, the Thai Tourism Authority reported in Bangkok early January 2011 that that foreign tourist arrivals in 2010 were recorded at 15.6 million, surpassing the targeted 15.1 million, despite the political turmoils. This year`s target has been set at 15.5 million.
In 2009, the number of Singaporean tourist arrivals in Indonesia reached over 1.2 million, according to Indonesian Ambassador to the neighboring country in Semarang, Central Java, last December.
While in 2009, Indonesia attracted around one million Malaysian tourists, and the number was expected to increase to at least 1.3 million in 2010.
Malaysian Tourism Ministry’s Secretary General Ong Hong Peng said in Kelana Jaya near Kuala Lumpur in July 2009, that Malaysia had gained 32.9 billion ringgit (9.4 billion US dollars) from 16.6 million tourists from ASEAN in 2008.
In 2008, Ong said that Malaysia received most ASEAN tourists from Singapore (11.0 million), followed by Indonesia (2.43 million), Thailand (1.49 million) and Brunei (1.09 million), Xinhua reported.
ASEAN has more than 570 million population that formed a large base for intra-ASEAN traveling, he said.
Source : Antara