YANGON (Xinhua) – Tourism ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are committed to implementing tourism standards for the region and a common regional visa to ease travel barriers and boost tourism sector growth by up to 20 percent, according to the ongoing World Economic Forum Friday.
“We are trying to promote ASEAN as a destination by including two to three stops in one package,” a news release quoted Mari Elka Pangestu, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia, as saying.
The travel and tourism sector offers Myanmar an important opportunity to create jobs and boost employability, the release said.
Myanmar is also committed to boosting intra-regional trade with a common visa for ASEAN nationals to be made available in 2014, it said, adding that in the midst of an economic metamorphosis, the tourist sector is playing an important role in boosting Myanmar’s urban and rural economies.
“Last year Myanmar received 1.06 million visitors. This year, we have been receiving visitors with a growth of 40 percent, but we want to get more,” noted U Htay Aung, Myanmar Minister of Hotels and Tourism, according to the statement.
Anthony F. Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Malaysia and also a Co-Chair of the WEF on East Asia, said that Myanmar must consider how it wants to market its unique destinations, pointing out that with the availability of low-cost travel, young people are the drivers of growth in ASEAN’s tourist sector.
The 22nd World Economic Forum on East Asia, hosted by Myanmar for the first time, was formally opened at Myanmar International Convention Center in the country’s new capital of Nay Pyi Thursday.
At the forum, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines agreed to work on ASEAN Common Smart Visa and signed the Statement of Intent on SMART Visa.
The four countries expressed their intention to collaborate with relevant government agencies and other stakeholders to facilitate travel in the region by developing a common smart visa system.
The forum was inaugurated by Chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab, Myanmar President U Thein Sein, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong.
The three-day forum includes several separate sessions covering agenda of acceleration of ASEAN integration and dialogue with Myanmar businesses and energy development.
The forum, under the theme “Courageous Transformation for Inclusion and Integration,” brings together over 900 participants including over 500 business leaders from 55 countries and the host country.
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