CEBU, the Philippines -- In the wake of Asia's economic crisis,
tourism ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(Asean) signed an agreement on cooperation in tourism and a plan of
action to bind member countries into a cohesive tourism
The signing was part of the first official meeting of the Asean
tourism ministers held during the 1998 Asean Tourism Forum here
from Jan. 8 to 15.
Priorities of the action plan include:Marketing the Asean region as a single tourism
destination.Encouraging tourism investment, including a liberalization of
trade in tourism.Tourism manpower development, including a networking of
training centers and the formation of a satellite accounting
system.The promotion of eco-tourism and the facilitation of
intra-Asean travel and cruise tourism.
The ministers also signed a memorandum of understanding to pool
tourism-related efforts with the World Travel & Tourism Council
and agreed to establish an Asean communication team for tourism.
The responsibility for this unit will rotate on an annual basis
between the various Asean national tourism offices.
The hot topic at this year's forum was whether member countries
should quote the price of tourism products in dollars, as is
traditionally done in the Philippines and Indonesia, or use local
Although using the dollar as the base currency would encourage
stability during times of economic turmoil, some members believe it
would make the region more expensive and therefore less
The forum attracted a record number of attendees: 1,700
participants, including 468 buyers, 849 sellers, 66 representatives
of national tourist offices and 260 media, according to Daniel
Corpuz, executive director of the Philippines Convention and
Of the total, 14% of the participants came from the Americas,
Corpuz added, with 43% coming from the Asia-Pacific region, 34%
from Europe, 7% from the Middle East and 1% from Africa. Forty-four
representatives of travel companies from the U.S. and 20 from
Canada were listed as attending the forum as buyers.