Single Asean visa eyed to boost regional tourism

By Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo | Special to the BusinessMirror

THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is close to implementing a single Asean visa that will allow any visitor to use a single document to travel to any member-state in the region.

This is one of the key points agreed upon by the Asean tourism ministers and executives during the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) in Manila from January 18 to 22.

The Asean single visa is a way to further promote the region as a single tourist destination and boost its visitor arrivals to 123 million by 2020, and 152 million by 2025. Last year there were 102 million visitor arrivals in Asean.

In an interview with reporters, Philippines Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said: “One example in the offing that will make travel to and within the region more fluid, is the single Asean visa; that’s very important and we’re getting on our way finally. Some countries, in fact, within Asean already accept each other’s visa. [This is a single visa] for everyone. If you get a visa to Singapore, that is a valid visa in the Philippines.”

He added that the new regional visa has the support of all the Asean members; “it’s just that we’re all at various stages of preparedness. So in principle, everyone agrees that it will actually come to pass.” He also said the Philippines has been at the forefront of championing the single Asean visa.

The single Asean visa is much like the Schengen visa protocol implemented in the European Community, but there are no mechanics yet for former’s implementation.

He explained that the difficulty in drawing up the mechanics “are technical, not political. For instance, ‘how do we match our data system to yours?’” It was noted during the news briefing that each member-nation has a different way of counting their visitor arrivals.

But Jimenez expressed optimism that the plan will still come to fruition “within the first five years of the [Asean Tourism Strategic] Plan [ATSP],” or by 2021.

The tourism ministers and executives unveiled the ATSP on Friday at a news briefing, which was preceded by the awarding of the first Asean Homestay Standard certificates and the Asean Green Hotel Standard Awards.

Reading from the joint statement of the ministers, Jimenez said these Homestay Awards, given out to 31 homestay organizations and providers across the region, will “enhance local quality of life to generate income, support local culture, arts and crafts business, encourage restoration of local and historic sites, and foster nature conservation efforts.”

The Philippine awardees are: Agan’s Homestay, Ate Homestay, Estelita Homestay, Xylla’s Homestay, and Omandam Homestay.

The ministers also noted that “89 hotels in the region have complied with the new Asean Green Hotel standard to promote sustainable tourism practices…through the adoption of environmental-friendly and energy conservations initiatives in their establishments in line with Asean tourism initiative on Tourism and Climate Change Monitoring System and Work Plan.”

The Philippine awardees this year are: Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort (Palawan), Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge, Pearl Farm (Davao), The Bellevue Resort (Bohol), and The Manor Camp John Hay (Baguio).

Under the ATSP, the targets of the region include:

  • GDP contribution of Asean tourism could increase from 12 percent to 15 percent;
  • Tourism’s share of total employment could increase from 3.7 percent to 7 percent;
  • Per capital spending by international tourists could increase from $877 to $1,500;
  • Increase the average length of stay of international tourist arrivals from 6.3 nights to 8 nights;
  • The number of accommodation units could increase from 0.51 units per 100 head of population in Asean to 0.60 units per 100 head of population;
  • The number of awardees for the Asean tourism standards could increase from 86 to 300; and
  • The number of community-based tourism value chain project interventions could increase from 43 to over 300.

The Philippine awardees this year are: Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort (Palawan), Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge, Pearl Farm (Davao), The Bellevue Resort (Bohol), and The Manor Camp John Hay (Baguio).

Friday also saw the signing of an historic accord between the Asean and Japan, Korea and China (Asean + 3), seeking to promote more travel within the region.

With the theme “One Community for Sustainability,” the ATF 2016 was attended by 457 buyers and 1,000 exhibitors with 467 booths, as well as 83 international and 100 local mediamen.

The ministers who attended the ATF were: Mardi Haji Mohammad Ali, deputy permanent secretary, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (Brunei); Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism (Cambodia); Dr. Arief Yahya, Minister of Tourism (Indonesia); Chaleaune Warinthrasak, Vice Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism (Lao PDR); Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, deputy minister of tourism and culture (Malaysia); U Ye Myint Aung, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Manila (Myanmar); S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Singapore); Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports (Thailand); Dang Thi Bich Lien, vice minister of culture, sports and tourism (Vietnam); DOT Sec. Jimenez (Philippines); and Le Luong Minh, secretary-general of the Asean.


1 comment

  1. Visit ASEAN with ONE AIRFARE RATE for Tourists from Western Countries will
    help faster realize the VISION of ASEAN. God bless!!

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