The ASEAN National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) and partners held their 57th meeting in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on February 2-3 to discuss the promotion and revitalisation of tourism in the region, as well as to agree on a number of principles.

Thong Rathasak, director-general for Tourism Development and International Cooperation at the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, described the event as a “success”.

According to Rathasak, participants included representatives from China, Japan, South Korea, Asia-Pacific Travel Association, ASEAN Tourism Association, ASEAN Tourism Research Association and the US-ASEAN Business Council.

The event served as a precursor to the 26th ASEAN Tourism Ministers’ Meeting, which was also held in Yogyakarta.

He added that in order to support the post-pandemic recovery of tourism in the region, the NTOs and their partners had agreed on several strategies.

First, they urged all member nations to implement the ASEAN guidelines on safety and hygiene in the tourism industry. The guidelines were approved at the 25th ASEAN Tourism Ministers’ Meeting in January last year. They also discussed the results of a study on mutual recognition of tourism professionals.

“They prepared a plan to complete the implementation of the ASEAN Framework on sustainable tourism development by the end of this year, and ratified protocols to amend their mutual recognition agreement,” he added.

The attendees also discussed the preparation of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which would identify means to strengthen tourism’s role in terms of socio-economic development, especially in a post-pandemic world.

Rathasak added that the 42nd ASEAN+3 Tourism Summit (China, Japan and Korea) was attended by the chairs of their respective tourism departments and the ASEAN Secretariat.

“The meeting promoted the implementation of 13 activities under the ASEAN+3 Tourism Cooperation Work Plan 2021-2025. It also promoted the implementation of priority activities in accordance with the ASEAN Tourism Restoration Plan, which was adopted at the 25th ASEAN Tourism Ministers’ Meeting in Preah Sihanouk province,” he said.

“The summit also marked the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan relations. Japan will host the ASEAN-Japan Tourism Ministers’ Special Dialogue Meeting in October this year.

“It focused on supporting the sustainable restoration of tourism in each country. Each participant agreed to strengthen cooperation in human resource development and tourism promotion,” he added.

The 29th ASEAN-India Tourism Institution Meeting was also held. Around 100 officials from the ASEAN-India Tourism Institution and the ASEAN Secretariat were in attendance.

“The participants agreed to accelerate the implementation of the activities set out in the ASEAN-India Tourism Work Plan 2023-2027, with a focus on the rehabilitation of tourism, especially in terms of marketing and capacity building. They also pledged to support the ASEAN Framework on Sustainable Tourism Development, as well as the Phnom Penh declaration on ASEAN tourism transformation for socio-economic growth,” said Rathasak.

“They also agreed to integrate India as a target market in their marketing strategy,” he added.

Rathasak said the ASEAN-Russia National Tourism Institute meeting was attended by the chair of the ASEAN-Russia National Tourism Institute, and representatives of the ASEAN Secretariat.

“They agreed on three major points. They will expedite the implementation of the activities set out in the ASEAN-Russia Tourism Work Plan 2022-2024. The plan focuses on the rehabilitation of tourism in each country, especially through marketing activities and human resource development,” he added.

“They also expressed their support for the ASEAN Framework on Sustainable Tourism Development, as well as the Phnom Penh declaration on the ASEAN tourism transformation for socio-economic growth. Finally, they agreed to promote the implementation of the East Asia Summit Declaration on economic growth through tourism rehabilitation, which was adopted at the 16th East Asia Summit on October 27, 2021,” he concluded.