Asia’s tourism needs to be sustainable for regional growth

 Monday, July 17, 2017 


Asia destinationsAs revealed by the sixth annual MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index published last September, Bangkok is currently a leading destination city, as determined by international overnight tourist arrivals.


Asian cities including the three cities from ASEAN presently comprise about half of the global leading 10 cities like Singapore, Seoul, Bangkok, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur. And, as per the ranking, the seven of the top 10 rapidly evolving destination cities are Colombo, Chengdu, Osaka, Taipei, Tokyo, Xi’an and Xiamen.


But then, as Thailand a large chunk of Asia have started welcoming an overwhelming number of tourists, the regional policymakers and tourist bosses need to progress a more sustainable tourism sector, mainly accelerating the growth of supporting infrastructure for the same.


On the other hand, tourists also need to make the best efforts to make sure the tourism industry in Asia continues to thrive, and this they can achieve by becoming ‘noble travellers’.


However, the tourism authorities in South-east Asia and across the region have been confronting with a challenge.


Even though they are putting their best foot forward thanks to interesting campaigns like ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’ and ‘Wonderful Indonesia’, they are urgently required to identify the perils of uncontrolled economic development here.


The problem is, this continued economic development is posing threat to the long-term sustainability of the very tourist attractions that lure a large number of visitors every year. In Thailand, that is reputed as the ‘Land of Smiles’, the tourism sector had contributed US$36.7 billion to the Thai economy that is equivalent to about 9.2% of total gross domestic product, as per the World Travel and Tourism Council.


The World Travel and Tourism Council mentions that the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP of Thailand is even higher comprising about US$82.5 billion. The Council predicts that the country is estimated to be the world’s 10th fastest-growing tourism economy in the following decade.


Naturally, governments throughout the region of South-east Asia and also all across the world have been investing in the sphere of travel and tourism, and also in various ‘country branding’ campaigns.


Asia’s governments need to address the issue of inequality of opportunity that is likely to impact the small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, since it is extremely critical to any country’s tourism industry in the long run. This might involve transparent bidding for development opportunities, increasing competition in hospitality and aviation sectors.


Tourism experts based in Asia need to think about implementing community-based tourism projects that offer local residents a voice on the type of tourism projects that should be planned for these communities.


This would go a long way in ushering in a fair sense of sustainable tourism in this part of the world.





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