The Second Meeting of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers (2nd M-ATM) was held on 28 January 1999 in Singapore, preceded by the 9th Meeting of the ASEAN National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) held from 26-27 January 1999. The ASEAN NTOs also held a Consultation with the Senior Transport Officials Meeting (STOM) as represented by the Singapore STOM delegation.
The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr Lee Yock Suan, Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore, with H.E. Mr Pitak Intrawityanunt, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office of Thailand, as Vice-Chairman. The Meeting was attended by:
H.E. Pehin Dato’ Abdul Rahman Taib, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam;
H.E. Mr Marzuki Usman, Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture, Indonesia;
H.E. Mr Cheng Sayavong, Vice-Minister to Ministry of Commerce & Tourism and Chairman of the National Tourism Authority of Lao PDR, Lao PDR;
H.E. Dato’ Sri Sabbaruddin Chik, Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism, Malaysia;
H.E. Major General Saw Lwin, Minister of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar;
H.E. Ms Gemma Cruz-Araneta, Secretary of Tourism, Philippines;
Dr Pham Tu, Vice Chairman of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Vietnam;
Mr. Immanuel Robert Inkiriwang, ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General, on behalf of H.E. Mr Rodolfo C. Severino, Jr., ASEAN Secretary-General; and members of their respective delegations.
H.E. Mr Veng Sereyvuth, Minister of Tourism, Cambodia and his delegation attended as Observers.
The Ministers reviewed the implementation progress of the Plan of Action on ASEAN Co-operation in Tourism and set the pace for the realisation of the tourism priorities of the Hanoi Plan of Action (HPA), among others.
Hanoi Plan of Action: Implementing the Tourism Priorities
In reaffirming the commitment to the ASEAN Leaders’ agenda in the Hanoi Plan of Action, the Ministers resolved to implement the Visit ASEAN Millennium Year in the year 2002, with special focus on international travel and tourism to the ASEAN region as well as within ASEAN itself. The Ministers adopted a broad strategy towards its eventual implementation by the ASEAN NTOs in greater partnership with the private sector.
To translate the HPA priorities into action, the Ministers endorsed the designation of country co-ordinators for the following activities:
launching the Visit ASEAN Millennium Year 2002 (the Philippines);
conduct of strategic studies for joint marketing of the ASEAN region in the 21st century, and the convening of top-level tourism marketing missions to promote the region (Brunei Darussalam);
establishment of a network among ASEAN Tourism Training Centres with an emphasis on new job skills and new technologies by 2001 in tourism policy and planning (Indonesia);
conduct of eco-tourism programmes for the travel trade and consumers (Malaysia); and
completion of a cruise tourism development study by ASEAN by the year 2000 (Singapore).
As a contribution of the tourism sector in addressing the current financial and economic crisis and in line with the new rounds of negotiations under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services, the Ministers urged the acceleration of trade liberalisation for tourism services under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS), with the view to removing all obstacles to the free flow of tourism services among member countries.
To attract more tourism investments and to expand the industry, member countries could also offer some or all of the following special incentives and facilitation support.
corporate income tax exemption granted to new projects in tourism investments (hotel construction and business operations, tourist resorts, golf courses, travel trade activities, etc)
maximisation of the equity ownership up to 100% in the tourism and travel-related industries
duty free status for imported capital goods
easy access to penetrate domestic markets
maximisation of the period of land concessions or land use for FDI in tourism and travel-related industries
acceleration of the free flow of tourism professionals with certified, occupational skills
speedy custom clearance of capital goods for new investment and promotional materials
Liberalising the issuing of investment and trade licenses by the simplification or deregulation of procedures and mechanisms.
The Ministers further agreed that member countries should promote a positive, intra-ASEAN investment climate.
The Ministers also agreed to pursue air services liberalisation to promote intra-ASEAN travel.
Implementation Status of the Plan of Action on ASEAN Co-operation in Tourism
In reviewing the implementation status of the Plan of Action, the Ministers were pleased with the progress made in the five areas of co-operation, namely:
Marketing the ASEAN region as a single tourist destination. The Ministers noted that in the area of marketing destinations, competition does exist. However, the above action plans are carried out in a spirit of co-operative competition.
Encouraging tourism investments;
Developing a pool of critical tourism manpower;
Promoting environmentally sustainable tourism; and
Facilitating seamless intra-ASEAN travel.
In particular, the Ministers were pleased to note the completion of the following initial activities in the Plan of Action:
the establishment of an ASEAN NTO fund for joint promotion activities to be undertaken by the ASEAN NTOs;
the publication of Wonders of Southeast Asia – An Official Guide to Thematic Tour Packaging by the Experts’ Group on Tourism, a manual specially designed to help the travel trade plan and develop more creative packages for various market segments, particularly special interest groups;
the publication of the ASEAN Tourism Investment Guide, a manual that provides potential investors with relevant information on doing business in the respective countries, including regulatory requirements and their investment climates and regimes; and
the completion of a Study on the Facilitation of Intra-ASEAN Travel, which looks at the challenges and practical measures to address facilitation of intra-ASEAN travel.
The Ministers noted the heightened emphasis given to tourism in the Hanoi Plan of Action and the on-going review of the structure of the ASEAN Secretariat. They directed the Secretariat to look into strengthening its unit overseeing tourism matters, so as to provide greater support to the ASEAN NTOs in the areas of tourism information exchange and dissemination as well as training for the region’s tourism personnel.
ASEANTA’s support for the Plan of Action on ASEAN Co-operation in Tourism
The Ministers acknowledged the active and complementary participation of the private sector in implementing the Plan of Action. The Ministers viewed that such involvement by the private sector is a critical element in the success of the Plan. In keeping with the spirit and intent of the Plan of Action, the Ministers commended the complementary efforts of the ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) in the following area:
The implementation of the ASEAN Air Pass, an innovative product developed jointly by ASEANTA member airlines, to promote travel into and within the ASEAN region; and
The development of an ASEAN Events Module in the ASEANTA website that will facilitate the wider dissemination of tourism events taking place in ASEAN Member Countries.
Formation of a Joint ASEAN NTOs-STOM Cruise Working Group
In line with the proposal of the ASEAN Transport Ministers (ATM), the Tourism Ministers agreed to the formation of a Joint ASEAN NTOs-STOM (Senior Transport Officials’ Meeting) Cruise Working Group, as recommended in the Inaugural ASEAN NTOs-STOM Consultation held on 26 January 1999.
ASEAN Tourism Forum Jan 1999 (ATF ’99): "Partners in Progress"
The Ministers were pleased to note the extensive support given by the public and private sectors for ATF ’99, in particular TRAVEX ’99. This was organised by private sector agencies, namely, the National Association of Travel Agents of Singapore (NATAS) and the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) under the auspices of ASEANTA.
The Ministers viewed that the theme of ATF ’99 – "Partners in Progress" – aptly described the various forms of partnership evident in the activities of the ASEAN NTOs as well as the deliberations of the 2nd Meeting of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers. The Ministers emphasised that such partnership is the key to ASEAN’s continued success for co-operation in the tourism sector.
The next ATF will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, on 20-26 January 2000, with the theme "Towards Seamless Intra-ASEAN Travel". The Third Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers (3rd M-ATM) will also be held in Bangkok, Thailand, on 23 January 2000.
The Meeting was held in the traditional spirit of ASEAN cordiality and solidarity.