ASEAN needs to improve connectivity – minister


Countries in the ASEAN region need to improve connectivity and infrastructure in order to maximise their combined tourism potential, according to a leading government official.

Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism & Creative Economy, Dr Mari Elka Pangestu, said that while ASEAN’s diversity was “a strength, not a weakness”, more needs to be done to improve road, sea, air, and rail connectivity within the region.

Dr Mari Elka Pangestu (photo by cc-by-sa from the World Economic Forum)

“In my opinion, we should prioritise strengthening domestic, regional and international connectivity and developing tourist destinations through cooperation in infrastructure building, both soft and hard infrastructure,” Dr Pangestu said.

Commenting on the introduction of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, which would ease flows of trade, investment and labour between Southeast Asian countries, Dr Pangestu she supported the single ASEAN visa, to enhance “the promotion of ASEAN tourism as a single tourism destination, as well as ASEAN’s greater integration and contribution to the global community”.

In terms of Indonesia, Dr Pangestu cited three policies the country has introduced to facilitate tourism development: increasing incentives given to tourism sector investment, simplifying investment procedures and boosting investment in tourism promotions. She also said that Indonesia is planning to set up more Special Economic Zones for the tourism industry, including one in Mandalika in West Sumbawa. “Having these Special Economic Zones, allows us to offer more fiscal incentives to foreign investment as well as more facilitation to investors,” she said.

Dr Pangestu also noted that Indonesia is in the process of building five cruise ports, in Sabang, Belawan, Jakarta, Surabaya and Benoa – all of which will be open by the end of 2013.

In conclusion, Dr Pangestu said the goal of ASEAN is to see an “increased number of visitors to the region with authentic and diverse products, enhanced connectivity, a safe and secure environment… [while] ensuring an increasing quality of life and opportunities for residents through responsible and sustainable tourism development”.
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