The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed on 8th August 1967 initially comprising Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, and Thailand. As a regional interstate organization, its membership has increased to include Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, and Laos. The organization is currently made of ten countries of Southeast Asia, and its core objectives are to promote intergovernmental cooperation as well as facilitating political, economic, military, cultural, and educational integration amongst the members.
The main purpose of coming together is to accelerate social-cultural, social development, and economic intensification. The organization also facilitates guarding the regional stability and ensuring a coordinated framework for resolving differences peacefully amongst the member countries. As an intergovernmental organization, ASEAN has been part of the official observer of the United Nations across the member countries in Southeast Asia. It has already established itself as a stand for the Asian cooperation and integrations as well as collaborating with other non-member Asian countries to promote the region’s prosperity, unity, development, and sustainability.
ASEAN has also been working with other Asian countries to establish solutions towards resolving problems and disputes in the region. While the ASEAN focuses mainly on the Asia-Pacific countries, it also formed communications with other nations in various parts of the world with the aim of promoting stability and world peace. That is why the organization is highly reputed globally due to its constant effort of promoting diplomacy and goodwill among different countries, fighting biased decision making, and supporting the code of non-interference.
How ASEAN is Promoting Tourism Among its Member Countries
The tourism is one of the economic and social sectors that promote peace, unity, and development in the world. ASEAN has been promoting tourism by establishing cooperation among the Asian countries. Some of the organization’s member nations such as Vietnam are world’s most-sought after travel destinations, and through the ASEAN many visitors from different parts of the world have been flying over to Southeast Asia.
The organization has been working with the governments, especially the tourism ministries, to ensure impartial opinion and decision-making processes. The ASEAN member states institutionalized visa-free travel among the nations, which has led to the booming of the intra-ASEAN traveling. This action has formed a community of the Asian countries, enhancing the trade and business integration in the region. According to a report published by the tourism ministries of the ASEAN member states, there was approximately 33 million out of 74 million tourists from the other Southeast Asian countries that are not members of the ASEAN organization.
The establishment of the ASEAN teamwork in the tourism sector was finalized in 1976 after the development of the Sub Committee on Tourism, which is under the organization’s Committee on Tourism and Trade. The first forum on tourism was held in Kuala Lumpur on October 1981. Later in 1986, the ASEAN established the Promotional Chapters for Tourism in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Japan.
In ASEAN, tourism is one of the major growth economic and social sectors, which has maintained resilient despite the economic challenges that have been witnessed over the decades. With the broad range of attraction sites in the region, there were over 80 million travelers to the Southeast Asia region in 2011. This figure represents a 30% increase in relative to the 62 million tourists that visited the same region in 2007. According to the GDP statistics of the ASEAN, the tourism sector is generating approximately 4.5% of the total GDP. Apart from generating the nations’ income, the tourism ministries have employed about 10 million people, which is equivalent to 3.5 % of the total employment.
On the other hand, the ASEAN tourism has also supported over 25 million employments indirectly. Additionally, the ASEAN has contributed about 8% of the region’s capital investment. The ministers of the ASEAN tourism called for a development marketing strategy in 2012, which was aimed at representing the agreement of National Tourism Organizations of the ASEAN on the ways of marketing for the ASEAN. Through the intergovernmental organization, the member states have been reaping the fruits of prosperity, peace, stability, and the general partnership.
According to a report released in 2013 on Tourism and Travel Competitiveness Index, the following were the rankings based on the top best travel destinations in the Asia Pacific region;
• Singapore 1st.
• Malaysia 8th
• Thailand 9th
• Indonesia 12th
• Brunei 13th
• Vietnam 16th
• Philippines 17th
• Cambodia 20th