All ten South East Asia nations’ National Tourism Organisations(NTO)s have come together under the ASEAN Promotional Chapter for Tourism(APCT), INDIA Chapter, to promote ASEAN as a single and collective destination to Indian tourists. The chapter got together in Mumbai on 26 August to create awareness among travel trade.Mr. Manoharan Periasamy, Chairman APCT – India Chapter and Director, Tourism Malaysia, said: ” South East Asia has always been an attractive destination for Indians. In fact , India has consistently been one of the top 10 tourist generation markets to this region. Last year we had over 102 million visitors to the ASEAN Countries and over 3 million were from India.”
Historically Indians have been visiting Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. ASEAN has much to offer with the inherent diversity in terms of people’s lifestyle, culture, religion and culinary experience, together with rich natural landscape and deep historical heritage. Last year Myanmar saw a 50 percent increase in their tourist arrivals with India being a major contributor. Places like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are also featuring more on the Indian must visit countries list.
Mr Periasamy said: “These are all positive signs for us at APCT. ASEAN recognizes the strategic role of the tourism sector in economic growth and hopes that by 2025, the region will be a quality tourism destination offering a unique, diverse ASEAN experience that will be committed to responsible, sustainable and inclusive tourism development.
APCT is taking numerous initiatives to ensure that tourists get the best during their holiday in ASEAN region. Special emphasis is being laid on enhancing product development through regional awareness of products and offerings, facilitation of intra-ASEAN travel etc. APCT is also identifying ways to standardise certain services of tourism. Each country has been assigned the role to lead coordinators to ensure world class facilities. Experiences like home stays and spas are being scrutinised for security and safely, cleanliness tourism standards.
APCT urged travel trade partners to create special ASEAN packages similar to popular European packages. ASEAN has a plethora of its own offerings like good shopping, theme parks for families, unexplored islands, adventure , cruising options , exotic spa treatments and beautiful wedding and honeymoon locales.
Proposal for an ASEAN, common visa for non ASEAN nationals to facilitate business mobility and tourism is under discussion. Currently, common visa for Cambodia and Thailand has proven successful. Malaysia is offering visa on arrival (VOA) for Indian tourists visiting through Singapore and Thailand.
Mr. Dhananjay Saliankar, Regional Director, STARWOOD Sales Organisation, South Asia, said ” Starwood Hotels & Resorts has a good presence in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. We have also entered new markets like Laos , Cambodia , & Philippines. APCT will help in leveraging the tremendous tourism potential of the region.”
Written by Anand & Madhura Katti