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Bangkok's Thammasat University to Prepare New Strategic Plan for ASEAN Tourism

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A new strategic plan for tourism in the ASEAN countries of Southeast Asia is being prepared to help the region achieve an integrated ASEAN Community by 2015. The plan will recommend a wide range of policies and reforms in ASEAN's tourism marketing, branding, product development, human resource development, quality standards, investment strategies, cruise development, crisis management and communications, infrastructure, and border, customs, and immigration policy.

The ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2011-2015 was commissioned as a result of partnerships and agreements between the ASEAN National Tourism Organizations, the ASEAN Competitiveness Enhancement office, a project designed and funded by the United States Agency for International Development, and tourism specialists at the university. The College of Innovation in Bangkok's Thammasat University has been tasked with preparing the plan in full consultation with the industry.

"The plan will be built on a broad vision and will make fresh, strategic and readily actionable tourism industry recommendations," said Professor Dr Walter Jamieson of the university.

Under the supervision of ACE and ASEAN National Tourism Organizations, the university's scope of work will include a review of ASEAN declarations relating to tourism, consultation with public and private sector stakeholders, an assessment of projects initiated under the existing road map, the identification of priority activities, and the formulation of a vision and set of strategies that, when implemented, would lead to the successful regional integration of ASEAN tourism by 2015.

The region's tourism sector is required to identify and prepare new strategies and programs for 2011-2015 for the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015. The plan will succeed the ASEAN Roadmap for the Integration of the Tourism Sector which expires in 2010. ACE and Thammasat University are expected to present the final ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan to ASEAN national tourism organizations by November 2010.

Felix Cruz, the Chairman of the public-private sector ASEAN Tourism Association, welcomed the deal. "We need Thammasat to take an honest, candid and strategic view that clearly identifies opportunities, but doesn't shy away from the hard issues," said Manila-based Mr Cruz, who is also Vice President of Marketing Support for Philippine Airlines.

Tran Dong Phuong, Head of the Infrastructure Division, ASEAN Economic Community Department, part of the ASEAN Secretariat based in Jakarta, said a good plan well implemented would create jobs and visitor satisfaction. "We look forward to a plan that identifies priority areas and actions for cooperation and integration across the ten ASEAN tourism markets. The plan will help boost the quality and quantity of tourism across ASEAN," he said.

In July, the 30th meeting of the ASEAN National Tourism Organizations in Phnom Penh formally requested the ASEAN Competitiveness Enhancement (ACE) Project to support the development of the plan.

Bangkok-based ACE project Director, Mr RJ Gurley, said, "ASEAN's tourism senior officials welcome the plan. They realize it will have to strike a balance between being visionary and practical at the same time."

The Dean of the College of Innovation at Thammasat University, MR Pongsvas Svasti, said that Professor Jamieson's team will include Ms Pawinee Sunalai, Senior Administrative Officer, at the College, and specialist consultants throughout the region. Dr Jamieson has over 35 years of experience and Ms Pawinee has 11 years of experience working in tourism planning and development in the region.

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