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January 7, 2009

Asean Tourism Forum 2009:
Regional development strategy in the pipeline

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will draw up a regional tourism development plan for the 2011-2015 period to promote tourism cooperation between its member countries, reported Vietnam news agancy.  

The decision was made at the 29th meeting of the Asean National Tourism Organisation (Asean NTO) in Hanoi on Jan. 6, which was chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Tran Chien Thang.  
The event is part of the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) scheduled to run in Vietnam from January 5-12.  

During the meeting, Asean member countries passed the final draft of the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on tourism, which is expected to be signed by tourism ministers at the January 9 session.  

Once approved, the document is expected to facilitate the movement and use of skilled labours between Asean member countries as well as promote tourism within the bloc.  

The meeting also discussed the creation of the Asean tourism investment corridor, the granting of Asean green hotel certificates.

Participants approved a number of tourism proposals to be implemented in 2009, which concerned marketing, human resources, tourism standard, cruise travel and information exchange on tourism crisis.  

In order to further promote Asean tourism to lure more foreign tourists to the region, Asean member countries will cooperate with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement an Asean competitiveness enhancement project.  

Between January 6-7, Asean NTO will hold expanded meetings with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (Asean NTOs+3), NTOs and the Greater Mekong Sub-region (NTOs+GMS), NTOs and Russia and NTOs and India.  

The first ATF took place in Malaysia in 1981 and since then the event has been held annually by Asean member countries.  

ATF 2009, themed Asean Tourism-Striving for a New Height, is the first of its kind hosted by Vietnam since the country joined the forum in 1998.

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