ASEAN countries must present a more unified tourism programme, as opposed to promoting only their own countries, to overcome current economic challenges, enhance ties among members, and enjoy greater tourism success.
The uneven performance in tourism among Asean countries has led some observers to suggest greater tourism cooperation and collaboration.
“The governments of Asean have to be unified and present a united front to negotiate with major powers like China (and its growing middle class) for the benefit of each country and the region in the long run,” said Morragotwong Phumplab, assistant professor at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts, Bangkok Post reported.
It said Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar are the three favourite destinations for Chinese tourists who have also maintained their preference to tour other Asean countries.
Coupled with increased arrivals from other nations, all Asean member countries will benefit if they can collaborate more in terms of having a common tour package, said Morragotwong.
A majority of tourists are sticking to their travel plans in Asean, despite the global economic downturn and strong currencies of certain countries, because they want new experiences travelling, said Kritchanat Kulratchahirun, chief executive of the NB Holiday Tour company.
Close to 129 million tourists visited Asean last year.
According to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019, Singapore is the number one destination among Asean members, followed by Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
In a survey of 140 countries, Singapore is ranked at 17th, Malaysia (29), Thailand (31), Indonesia (40), Vietnam (63), Brunei (72), the Philippines (75), Laos (97) and Cambodia (98). Myanmar is not listed.
Data released by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) early this year puts Asean’s annual tourist arrival growth at seven per cent, the highest in the Asia Pacific region, said The Asean Post. This is followed by Northeast Asia, with six per cent growth, South Asia (5 per cent) and Oceania (3 per cent).
The data from the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, which is published six times a year and monitors short-term tourism trends, cites a favourable economic environment and strong outbound demand from major source markets as among the drivers of growth.
“The growing size of middle-income families, enhanced connectivity, increased visa facilitation, the stability of fuel prices and the proliferation of budget airlines are some of the other factors contributing to the growth,” said the portal.