ASEAN members reiterated their commitment to develop Southeast Asia into a vibrant cruising destination during ASEAN Tourism Forum 2017 held in Singapore.
In support, they agreed to develop a joint declaration on cruise tourism, according to the joint media statement of the 20th meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers.
The five-day tourism forum came to a close on Friday after the launch of “Visit ASEAN@50” campaign on Wednesday. ASEAN ministers also made agreement on cruise tourism, quality tourism during the gathering.
The inaugural Cruise Dialogue was organized on Thursday to further realize the potential growth of cruise tourism in the region, showcase examples of cruise port development projects, and discuss how cruise lines and entities can partner ASEAN member states to develop cruise ports.
Hosted on board currently the largest cruise ship homeporting in Southeast Asia, ASEAN ministers were briefed on the industry. They urged to develop infrastructure to accommodate various cruise ships.
Noting that passengers expected to cruise in Southeast Asia would reach approximately 4.5 million by 2035, ASEAN ministers agreed to develop a joint declaration on cruise tourism. According to the statement, the joint declaration will set out principles to spur port and destination development in the region, and further encourage industry stakeholders to collaborate and grow cruise tourism.
Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive of Singapore Tourism Board, stressed that cursing is a multi-destination product; it will take collective efforts within Southeast Asia in order for the industry to flourish.
Benito C. Bengzon of the Philippine Department of Tourism said his country is gearing up to be an active player in the regional cruise arena. “The Philippines has now developed its National Cruise Tourism Development Strategy that provides a strategic direction for the country to fully maximize its potential for cruise tourism,” added the undersecretary.
Meanwhile, Indonesia is also planning to prioritize infrastructure development to allow the berthing of large cruise ships. The immigration clearance processes are also under review to ensure consistency across all checkpoints and communication channels to support the cruise industry.
During the meeting, ASEAN ministers also agreed to develop new products and experiences in the areas of yachting, river cruises, youth tourism and sports tourism.
Established in 1981, the annual ASEAN Tourism Forum is a useful platform for the region's tourism ministers, government officials and travel industry players to come together and discuss ways to further stimulate tourism growth.
In 2018, the forum will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.