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Live from ATF 2006, Davao City
Ministers make breakthrough
 
Ollie Quiniquini, Davao City  (2006-01-18)

THIS year's ASEAN ministerial and NTO meetings have resulted in concrete policy and implementation measures with representatives coming with "greater commitment, more exchange of ideas, and more solutions offered".

Integration and joint marketing dominated the agenda of the meetings.

The ASEAN tourism ministers have:
Endorsed the ASEAN Crisis Communications Manual (ACCM) presented by the ASEAN Crisis Communications Team (ACCT); 
Agreed to look into establishing a mechanism modelled after the ASEAN-Japan Centre for the joint marketing of ASEAN as a single destination;
Inched closer to the possibility of a common visa for ASEAN; and
Brought forward deadlines for integration measures to bring the region closer to the EU model, among others. The ASEAN Secretariat will come up with the terms of reference for a dedicated agency to promote ASEAN as a single destination.

First-time attendee Thailand Ministry of Tourism and Sports vice-minister, Mr Thavatchai Sajakul, said while he initially thought the agenda was not very strong, the ministerial meeting resulted in several definite measures. "No one takes anything for granted. For every issue, there is a timeframe to do it."

The ASEAN ministers and NTOs, however, did not touch on issues facing the market such as the impact of negative publicity on avian flu and security on the tourism industry of some ASEAN countries.

Cambodian minister of tourism, Mr Lay Prohas, said ASEAN had to be careful in its communication on avian flu. He said: "Only a few countries in ASEAN are affected by avian flu. As a region, we must be very careful. People might think the whole ASEAN has the problem. The situation is under control in ASEAN. If not properly reported, it might affect the whole region, even those countries that are avian-flu free."

 
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