APEC Ministers regenerate tourism markets

APEC Ministers regenerate tourism markets

BANGKOK, 20th August, 2022 (WAM) -- Tourism Ministers from the 21 APEC member economies at a meeting in Bangkok on Friday, endorsed a set of guidelines for rebuilding the tourism industry across the region through investment, the creation of employment opportunities, human resource development, occupational standards, and support for small businesses.

Tourism Ministers from APEC member economies are coordinating their policies to revive the tourism and travel industry in the region so that it is safe, sustainable, responsible and more inclusive.

According to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the travel and tourism industry contributed to almost 11 percent to the total employment in the region by providing around 162 million jobs in 2019. This number dipped during the height of the pandemic, accounting for just 131 million jobs in 2020 and 138.7 million jobs in 2021.

"It’s time for us to get back on track and move towards more positive territory," said Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports.

"Key to our work this year has been to ensure the safe resumption of travel," said Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat.

"Even as the pandemic eases into endemic status, the work undertaken by APEC will serve as an important guide for preparedness," Dr Sta Maria explained. "The exchange of information, work towards interoperability of vaccine certificates and initiatives and proposals to facilitate the movement of people across borders in the Asia-Pacific region will stay with us."

"If there’s one thing we have all learnt from the pandemic, it is that tourism is key to the economic growth of our region. So facilitating the safe resumption of cross-border travel will continue to feature post-pandemic," she concluded.

The guidelines, updating advice from the pre-COVID era, reflects the need to reduce barriers that have a direct impact on visitor exports and tourist flows in the region. It covers a number of guiding principles: Respect local resource custodians, traditions and culture Enhance sustainable and responsible travel and tourism Encourage the exchange of information and open dialogue Foster human resource development, skills training and occupational standards tools for a stronger industry workforce including workers with disabilities Utilize innovative technologies to improve economic, social, cultural, and environmental well-being, as well as establish partnerships Identify synergies and utilize resources through public-private partnership to encourage tourism investment in the APEC region Strengthening the resiliency of tourism to prepare for future shocks Ministers also looked beyond recovery and set their sights on the long term. They agreed that the future of tourism needs to contribute to all elements of wellbeing not only for travelers, but for local businesses, as well as their employees. They welcomed the introduction of the "Policy Recommendations for Tourism of the Future: Regenerative Tourism," a set of policy recommendations covering concrete actions that member economies can consider in managing this next phase of the industry.

They envision tourism that is regenerative in nature; does no harm and instead gives back by helping sustainable practices thrive. Ministers want to build an industry that responds to change and which will continue to thrive amid future crises.

Gathered under the theme of APEC 2022 "Open. Connect. Balance", they envision the future of tourism as inclusive and sustainable.

Peru, the chair of APEC 2024, will host the next APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting.