Sustainable tourism: the new focus

14 October 2014

Source: Viet Nam News Agency (VNA) (Viet Nam)
Source type: News Agency
Published on: 12 Sep 2008

Participants at the Asia-Europe Meeting's (ASEM) forum on tourism co-operation held yesterday (11 Sept 2008) in Ho Chi Minh City made strides toward agreements on sustainable tourism and socio-economic development. "Through tourism co-operation, we can increase our efforts to build up a more solid economic partnership among ASEM-member countries," said Viet Nam’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh as he opened the forum, the first of its kind in Viet Nam.

The day-long forum was attended by 300 delegates from 45 ASEM member countries and other organisations.

"In the context of globalisation and trade liberalisation, ASEM has increasingly affirmed its major role in stimulating exchanges between the two continents in science and technology, trade and investment, and services," Anh said.

Issues addressed at the forum included hunger eradication and poverty alleviation, climate change, heritage preservation, and international destination promotion.

Among these, tourism with its advantages has been given a priority by many member countries and maintained steady growth, generating jobs and easing poverty.

Statistics from the World Tourism Organisation show that the two continents received a total of 828.7 million international tourists last year, accounting for more than 92 per cent of the world’s outbound visitors.

European countries welcomed some 480 million tourists while the Asia-Pacific counterparts registered the highest-ever growth in international arrival at 10 per cent, compared to the world average of four per cent.

The minister said Viet Nam tourism had been actively integrating into the regional and global economy, and the Government considered tourism a key industry and had urged every sector and branch to promote national tourism.

Anh also called for support from ASEM-member nations and international organisations to help Viet Nam develop sustainable tourism and eliminate poverty.

He said numerous challenges the two continents face included natural disasters, epidemics, global fuel price hikes and economic downturn, which requires the ASEM tourism sector to join force to find an efficient solution.

"Great efforts should be made to conserve and promote cultural heritage, facilitate visitors’ travel, open more direct flight routes among tourist spots, launch more new tourist products, develop human resources and improve the service quality."

Anh said he hoped the forum would receive many new initiatives and proposals to bring ASEM’s tourism co-operative bids to new heights.

Speaking at the forum, Wonil Cho, ambassador of the Asia-Europe Foundation, stressed the importance of tourism in the global economy, saying that tourism represented up to 10 per cent of GDP worldwide.

He said cultural tourism had become more popular in Europe where a new source of revenue was coming from historical landmarks, culinary art and even mother languages.

"Cultural tourism has also brought hundreds of thousands of European visitors to various countries in the Asian region to learn more about local traditional values and lifestyle."

He further said Asian member countries in the ASEM block boasted diverse resources to be tapped for tourism development, such as major historical relics, delicious food and shopping venues attractive to tourists.

Harry Hwang, deputy chief representative of the World Tourism Organisation in the Asia Pacifics, said the region was emerging as a more prominent destination on the international tourism map.

The number of tourists coming to Viet Nam last year was 17 per cent higher than the average rate in the region, he said.

"It is essential to intensify Asia-Europe co-operation so that a fast growing market like Asia can benefit from a vast European tourism outlet," said Kirsten Focken, marketing consultant of the German-based GTZ Technical Assistance Organisation.

More European tourists were travelling outbound and on average staying for 10 nights and spending 898 euros a trip.

Their top five Asian destinations were mainland China, Thailand, Hong Kong, India and Singapore, he said, adding that Europe was also luring more Asian tourists, mostly from mainland China, India, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia.

He said the factors to make tourism industry successful were environment, policy, security, infrastructure, communication, prices, natural and cultural resources and manpower. — VNS