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 10 Jan 2009

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Asean Tourism
Focus shifts to budget, youth tourist travel

Southeast Asia is turning to budget and youth tourists this year to soften the blow from an expected slump in long-haul vacationers, reported Reuters.

This however will not make up for a drop in revenue and visits due to the global slowdown, a senior official said.

The tropical region with its white sand beaches hosted about 58 million visitors  who poured about $1.4 trillion into the economy in 2007, accounting for roughly 5 percent of combined GDP, said Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Last year, those numbers grew, but statistics for the fourth quarter when the global economic slowdown started to hit have not yet been reported, he said.

"We are going to take quite a big hit," he said. An optimistic outlook for this year would be to maintain the visitor figure. "Personally, I think that would be an achievement," he said.

And in terms of revenues "we would be lucky if we could keep it the same". At a forum in Hanoi, Asean tourism officials outlined a plan to face the global economic slowdown that included targeting youth travellers, budget tourists, and trying to attract visitors from neighbouring Asean countries as well as China, Japan, South Korea and India.

"It's going to help; it's not going to solve the problem," said Surin. "What do we do?" Those in the region may be more inclined during the rough economic times ahead to travel shorter distances for vacation, he added.




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