APEC Promotes Sustainable Tourism for an Inclusive and Interconnected Asia-Pacific

On 19 June 2017, in Ha Long, Viet Nam, the APEC High-Level Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Tourism was held. Under the APEC 2017 theme "Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future”, the Dialogue focused on “Promoting Sustainable Tourism for an Inclusive and Interconnected Asia-Pacific”, with a view to further enhance APEC cooperation on sustainable and inclusive development. This is an important event of APEC held in conjunction with, and support of the United Nations 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, with the participation of APEC Tourism Ministers and Senior Officials, representatives of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), International Air Transport Association (IATA), specialists of sustainable tourism, and tourism business representatives.

The Dialogue took place when the Asia-Pacific region is at a crucial juncture of transformation amidst a fast changing global landscape, and APEC is preparing to develop its post-2020 vision. In his opening remarks, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien emphasized: “In the context of fast transforming environment, APEC tourism is facing many opportunities as well as challenges. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is predicted to have an unprecedented impact on the world in general and on tourism industry in particular. A pressing issue is how to develop tourism sustainability in economic, socio-, cultural and environmental perspectives”.

The APEC Tourism Ministers and participants emphasized the significant role of tourism, particularly in stimulating economic growth, regional economic integration and connectivity, and creating jobs. In 2016, travel and tourism directly contributed USD 1.3 trillion to the APEC region's GDP, directly supported 67 million jobs and contributed 6.1% of the region’s exports. Moreover, every 10% increase in tourist arrivals in APEC economies is associated with a 1.2% increase in exports and a 0.8% increase in imports in the destination economy. Travel and tourism stimulates entrepreneurship and the growth of MSMEs, supporting economic diversification and creating jobs across sectors.

At the Dialogue, Dr. Dirk Glaesser, Director of the Sustainable Development Programme of the United Nations World Tourism Organization proposed specific recommendations regarding tourism and sustainable development agenda. Mr. Randy Durband, CEO of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Criteria, stressed the importance of applying sustainable tourism criteria. APEC economies and participants also discussed issues related to economic, social, environmental aspects of sustainable tourism, job creation, human resources development, development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), certification programs for tourism services to ensure inclusive development and interconnected regions and localities, public-private partnership enhancement in sustainable tourism development…

The APEC Tourism Ministers and Heads of Delegations issued the 2017 APEC High Level Statement with a focus on Promoting Sustainable Tourism for an Inclusive and Interconnected Asia-Pacific. This is an important Statement delivering a message that strongly supports the principles and actions to promote sustainable tourism, including:  Acknowledge that sustainable tourism development is a continuous process that requires constant impact monitoring, introduction of preventive or corrective measures; Foster regional and domestic tourism policies that support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Encourage viable, long-term economic contributions of travel and tourism in providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders; Respect socio-cultural authenticity of host communities; Make optimal use of environmental resources; Encourage a consumer-led demand for sustainable tourism practices and products; promote public-private partnership as a key instrument to develop sustainable tourism infrastructure and services; Create competitive and enabling environments for all tourism-related enterprises, and particularly MSMEs; conduct further studies to enable APEC economies to adapt to, and capitalize on, the changes made by the new advanced technologies. The APEC Tourism Ministers and Heads of Delegations agreed to report to the APEC Economic Leaders the importance of promoting sustainable tourism in the Asia-Pacific region.

The High-Level Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Tourism is a Viet Nam's initiative to contribute to the global and regional efforts to promote sustainable tourism. It is also the third APEC ministerial-level meeting hosted by Viet Nam in APEC 2017.