Tourism ministers from 10 Southeast Asian nations adopted this month the Phnom Penh Declaration on a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism.
At the 24th ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting, they agreed on the following:
- Encourage closer collaboration between members and with international organizations and stakeholders to achieve a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism sector that supports socio-economic growth and safeguards diverse cultures and biodiversity;
- Develop a Post COVID-19 Recovery Plan for ASEAN Tourism, taking into account best practices, local response and recovery policies, and lessons from the pandemic;
- Ensure fair and equal employment and development opportunities, particularly for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, vulnerable groups, and other affected communities; and
- Improve access to upskilling and reskilling training courses, educational exchange programs, and regional research networks for tourism professionals in such areas as digital technology, innovation, ecotourism, and entrepreneurship.
The meeting was hosted by Cambodia through a video conference on 4 February 2021.
Tourism was hit hard by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis. In a media statement, the ministers said ASEAN suffered a 75.8% decline in tourism receipts in 2020, compared with 2019 based on early estimates. International arrivals dropped by 80.5% and hotel room occupancy was at its lowest level as the industry experienced massive cancellations because of the pandemic. They also noted that the crisis disrupted people’s livelihoods across Southeast Asia.