ATF 2011 aims to raise ASEAN tourism sector’s competitiveness

The ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF 2011)’s target is to turn ASEAN into an attractive tourism destination and increase the competitiveness of the ASEAN tourism sector in the Asia Pacific region, said Cambodian Minister of Tourism, Thong Khon, in his opening speech at the forum on January 17.

The ATF 2011 opened in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from January 15-21, attracting tourism officials from 10 ASEAN countries and the three ASEAN partners of Japan, the Republic of Korea and China.

The Vietnamese delegation was led by Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ho Anh Tuan.

Mr Thong Khon said ATF 2011 aims to attract more tourists from ASEAN member countries and promote cooperation among ASEAN’s tourism sectors. ATF 2011 will also evaluate the real situation and potential for tourism cooperation among ASEAN nations and pinpoint opportunities and challenges for the tourism sector in Southeast Asia after the global financial crisis in order to attract more international tourists to the region.

During the event, the ATF 2011 Organising Board will host an exhibition with 250 pavilions displaying tourism products from the host country and ASEAN member countries.

Last year, tourism destinations within ASEAN welcomed more than 70 million tourists from all over the world, 10 million of which came from Japan, the Republic Korea and China.

East Asia is considered a driving force behind the development of ASEAN’s smoke free industry.

Tourism is seen as Cambodia’s key economic sector, which recovered quickly last year, attracting 2.5 million tourists (up 16 percent over 2009), and surpassing the set target of more than 2.4 million arrivals.

Cambodia is developing tourism models, particularly eco-tourism and promoting tourism advertisement through mass media facilities.