“The grouping of destinations under the ASEAN flag is a highly effective way of bringing together Southeast Asia’s unique tourism options. In the realm of human capacity development, ASEAN plays an important role in identifying common standards for education and training. Not only does this enable smaller countries such as Laos to benefit from its more developed neighbors, but it also affords greater workforce mobility, which in the coming years will be a challenge as markets become more integrated and liberalized through the ASEAN Economic Community,” Peter Semone, Chief Technical Adviser for the Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality, told Bruce Northam of the Long Island Pulse, who attended the conference last year.
Northam, a travel writer and host of American Detour, wrote that goals were announced at last year's meeting (held in Laos) for a single or even visa-free entry system between the 10 countries, as well as plans to develop a single market free-trade agreement and further economic integration.
Given the number of countries involved and the scale of the tourism issues being tossed around, we're set to stay on this story and see what comes out of this year's meeting. As this region continues to close the gaps between them, what impact will that have on tourism and travelers? We'll be reporting from Kuching, Malaysia, and sure to bring you the latest.