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Laos will actively partner with other ASEAN nations to implement the ASEAN tourism cooperation plan in a bid to revive tourism following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Mr Ounthuang Khaophanh informed the media of the decision after taking part in the 24th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers held by video link yesterday.
Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism, Dr Thong Khon, chaired the meeting, which was titled “Unity for Sustainable and Responsible Tourism Recovery”.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Ounthuang confirmed that Laos would actively participate in rolling out the activities defined in the ASEAN Tourism Strategy for 2021-22.
A report presented at the meeting noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has seriously affected Asean tourism. Some 261 million foreign tourists visited Asean in 2019 but the number plummeted to 47.4 million last year – a drop of 80 percent.
In Laos, foreign tourist arrivals also decreased by 81 percent compared to 2019.
Mr Ounthuang said Laos will follow the work plan for the next five years as part of the Asean+3 cooperation plan. This will focus on capacity building in the restoration of tourism in the region, and the implementation of cooperation plans between ASEAN and India, ASEAN and Russia, and ASEAN and various international organisations.
In particular, Laos will assess the impacts on world heritage sites and ASEAN heritage parks.
There will be a seminar to review the terms of reference of the ASEAN Sustainable Tourism Award and a second ASEAN training of trainers on tourism.
During the meeting, ASEAN ministers and deputy ministers held a mid-term review of the implementation of the ASEAN Tourism Strategy 2016-25, and assessed their cooperation over the past year.
The meeting reported that the spread of Covid-19 had severely affected tourism, with tourism businesses, hotels, restaurants, visitor attractions, and other associated businesses temporarily closing.
With support from Canada, ASEAN is preparing a plan for the recovery of ASEAN tourism and identifying appropriate measures for tourism development in the region.
ASEAN members are cooperating on sustainable tourism, strengthening the diversity of tourism products, use of technology in tourism, and building the capacity of personnel in the sector.