Initiatives that improve market access, facilitate traveller movement and promote the adoption of innovative business growth strategies are essential to delivering more sustainable, inclusive and rewarding tourism industry development in the Asia-Pacific region.

This was the view of APEC officials and tourism experts who concluded a technical dialogue on today in Khabarovsk, Russia, on the eve of the APEC Tourism Ministers Meeting which will be held here on Monday and Tuesday. APEC Ministers will jointly pursue policies that can strengthen tourism’s role as a pillar of economic growth among APEC economies.

“Tourist traffic in the APEC region remains on the increase and is being driven by economic expansion, rising incomes and improving tourism infrastructure among developing APEC members, and is creating jobs” said Javier Guillermo, APEC Tourism Working Group Chair.

“APEC and private sector stakeholders are working closely together on very concrete deliverables to ensure that tourism development is sustainable and inclusive to support businesses, many of them small and medium-sized enterprises, job creation and prosperity across the APEC region.”

In 2011, travel and tourism contributed 8.3 percent or US$3.22 trillion to APEC economies’ GDP and today employs more than 120 million people in the region.

APEC Ministers will drive APEC’s efforts to establish frameworks for greater connectivity and capacity building, with attention to expanding and coordinating air transport and tourism liberalization policies and cooperation agreements.

“Sharing best practices and providing tools to help APEC economies implement international air transport policies has the potential to increase passenger numbers and facilitate trade, investment and business growth in direct alignment with the needs of the tourism sector,” Guillermo said.

The launch of the multi-year APEC Travel Facilitation Initiative is on the agenda to develop projects and programs that enable more efficient, more secure, and less stressful travel.  

“Joint work to implement this initiative is critical to improving the ease of travel in the region and enabling greater tourism development; we will be very actively participating,” said Guillermo.

Over the next ten years, APEC’s visitor exports are expected to grow 4.7 percent annually. And by 2021, they are predicted to occupy a 3.9 percent share of APEC's total exports at US$750.7 billion.

Measures designed to bolster confidence and protect tourist traffic growth will be considered by APEC Ministers, with continued focus on the development of guidelines to ensure tourist safety.

Cutting-edge approaches for the creation of new business growth opportunities to fully and sustainably leverage increasing regional tourist traffic will also be explored.

This includes efforts to promote replicable, commercially successful strategies for niche markets such as cruises, meetings, incentives, conferences and events, and ecotourism, and to develop guidance for their adoption in APEC economies.

New ways to advance the sustainable development of tourism businesses and destinations will be among the other points topping APEC Ministers’ agenda.

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