APEC cooperation necessary for sustainable tourism development
Update: Jul 07, 2017
Experts have suggested Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) members should soon establish a new cooperation mechanism to develop tourism sustainably. 

A view of Lan Ha Bay in Cat Ba town of Hai Phong city

In 2015, the APEC region welcomed 396 million tourists, 33 percent of global holiday-makers. The sector brings in more than 598 billion USD, making up 44.5 percent of global turnover. 

In the Macao Declaration issued in 2014, APEC tourism ministers set a target of attracting 800 million international visitors by 2025. If the target is reached, it will add 3.8 trillion USD to the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), create an additional 21.1 million jobs and help 15.2 million people escape from poverty. 

To fulfill the objective, APEC members sought to chart development plans for a tourism-based economy at the ninth APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting in Lima, Peru, in May 2016.

They plan to focus on enhancing connectivity between domestic and international airlines, implementing measures designed specifically to facilitate tourism and organising training programmes to improve capacity of tourism workers, businesspeople and small-scale travel firms. 

During the 49th meeting of the APEC Tourism Working Group (TWG) in Papua New Guinea in 2016, APEC officials and their partners discussed regional cooperation in tourism. 

Rapid tourism development is forecasted to negatively impact the environment and climate. Therefore, sustainable tourism is an important goal for the world and the APEC economies in particular. 

In 2014, the TWG announced a report on sustainable tourism and instructions on building sustainable tourism sites. 

Representatives from 21 APEC economies adopted a statement on sustainable tourism development during the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Tourism held in Viet Nam’s northeastern province of Quang Ninh on June 19 this year.

The statement delivers a message of supporting principles and actions to promote sustainable tourism, with sustainable tourism regarded as a continuous process that requires constant impact monitoring. 

The document also underlines the need to foster regional and domestic tourism policies that support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and encourage viable, long-term economic contributions from travel and tourism in providing benefits for all stakeholders. 

It mentions the respect for socio-cultural authenticity of host communities and encouraging consumer-led demand for sustainable tourism practices and products, promoting public-private partnership to develop sustainable tourism infrastructure and services, creating competitive and enabling environments for all tourism-related enterprises and conducting studies to enable APEC economies to adapt to, and capitalise on, changes made by new technology.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Huynh Vinh Ai told reporters following the dialogue that representatives of the APEC economies agreed that sustainable tourism serves as a driving force for regional economic integration as well as comprehensive and sustainable economic growth. 

Apart from the environment and climate, sustainable tourism should be related to the material and spiritual life of communities, as well as local traditional cultural values, ecological systems and natural heritage, he said.

He added that the APEC members committed to put forth effective policies to spur sustainable tourism development based on the situation in each country, with attention paid to community-based tourism. 

Experts, however, suggested promptly building a mechanism to boost links between the APEC members to cope with challenges facing by the tourism sector, including climate change and sustainable development.