On 26th August 2015, Representatives of 10 ASEAN countries joined together to inaugurate the Indian edition of ASEAN Promotional Chapter for Tourism (APCT). This forum has been formed to leverage the incredible tourism potential in this region. The nations in this forum are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Why India? Well, India has consistently been one of the top ten countries generating tourism revenues in ASEAN countries & it is growing at the rate of 8% or so.
Mr. Manoharan Periasamy, the chairman of APCT (also Director of Malaysian Tourism in India), in his address, said that more than 3 million visitors from India visited this region last year. Highest growth of 50% in tourists has been witnessed by Myanmar last year and India was a major contributor!! I didn’t know of this fact!
So what’s in it for Indians, we may ask.
Historically Indians have been visiting Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. Now Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are getting added to their list. This is a positive sign for APCT.
There is a move to simplify Visa processes. Already Cambodia, Vietnam have online visa system. Cambodia and Thailand have a single visa. In addition to this, ASEAN countries are working towards a month long pass that will allow unrestricted intra ASEAN travel. There are some glitches but they’ll find a solution soon. Hopefully this will be in place by 2017. No more queuing for multiple visas. Yay!!
Not only visa, they are looking at various needs of a tourist such as regional packages and offerings, homestays, Spa, safety & security, community based tourism etc. I know they are working hard towards this as I was a part of promotion of Discover Thainess and rustic tourism in Thailand earlier this year.
While chatting with us His Excellency, High Commissioner of Brunei Dato Paduka Sidek Ali, said that for Brunei one of the biggest problems was the direct flight from India and they are working on it. As of now one can go Via Malaysia or Singapore.
Speaking at the event, Mr Dhananjay Saliankar, Regional Director, Starwood Sales Organisation, South Asia, who were the Hospitality partner, said that apart from having a great presence in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, they are entering other ASEAN markets and Indians are quite familiar with brands such as Westin, Sheraton, Le Meridien, St Regis, W hotels or The Luxury Collection. The chain operates over 65 hotels in the ASEAN region.
So whether it is Cultural, Rural, Adventure, Shopping or any of the other things that you may want to do as tourists, are going to be made easy soon! 😀
You all know, how much I love these ASEAN countries. In October I am headed to Thailand again on my 8th visit to the country. I think my visits will increase further with these facilities.
Tell me where are you headed to? 😀