Speaking at the fourth ASEAN Tourism Investment Forum held Wednesday in Ho Chi Minh City, Wong Kong Yew, director of
Tourism Research Institute of Malaysia, said investment funds were essential to the sustainable development of the region. He also recognized the importance of developing strategies to attract foreign direct investment and build long-term relationships.
Yew said plans were afoot to provide seed funding and matching funds to support the various initiatives in ASEAN Tourism Investment Zones.
ASEAN, as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is often known, comprises ten countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
One suggestion that emerged was that the government should encourage commercial banks and financial institutions to provide for tourism projects, Yew said.
The director said Vietnam ranked top for attracting foreign investment in the region where 50 percent of the funds come through the tourism industry.
No specific figures about foreign investment in ASEAN tourism were released in the forum.
Hoang Anh Tuan, Vietnamese minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said regional members should be more active in promoting tourism, not only for their countries, but for the bloc, so as to attract tourists and investors from other regions.
Tuan said Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar were seeking measures to promote tourism in the sub-region, based on the selling points of neighboring members.
He said the four members were interested in developing various land and air routes to support tourism in every member state and the sub-region in general.
Tuan said that if Vietnam opened direct flights to all destinations, this would be a step toward achieving its goal.
Vietnam's tourism industry grew 26 percent in the first nine months of this year, said the minister, who added it needed to further cooperate with other members to lure more foreign arrivals.
The number of foreign visitors to Vietnam in the first nine months reached 3.7 million, up 34.2 percent from the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office. Vietnam is expected to welcome 4.2 million foreign arrivals this year.