Vietnam will work with other ASEAN member countries towards building the region an attractive destination, a senior Vietnamese official has said.

Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ho Anh Tuan, representing Vietnam , addressed the 16 th meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers in the Lao capital city of Vientiane on January 20.

The event, which was held within the framework of the 32 nd ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF-32), was attended by ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh.

Tuan hailed tourism cooperation between ASEAN member countries, emphasising that the field is prioritised by Vietnam .

He suggested accelerating promotional activities and intra-regional connectivity to add more value to the group’s tourism products.

At the meeting, each country’s tourism performance in 2012 was reviewed and joint action plans for 2013 was laid out.

Participants discussed the implementation of Plan of ASEAN Tourism Strategy for 2011-2015 and an agreement on mutual recognition of tourism career.

Themed “ASEAN – hands in hands to conquer future”, ATF-32 opened the same day, seeing the attendance of guests from ASEAN’s partners – China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and Russia.

Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong said ATF-32 is an important event for ASEAN in preparations for the building of an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.

Also on the day, the 4 th Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Tourism Ministerial Meeting took place, drawing the participation of officials of Cambodia , Laos , Myanmar , Thailand , Vietnam and China , which lie along the river and representatives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) .

Delegation heads agreed that the sub-region’s tourism cooperation has reaped positive results in market promotion and marketing, development of human resources for the non-smoking industry, preservation and management of social effects on cultural and natural heritages, travel facilitation and infrastructure upgrade.

At the event, Deputy Minister Tuan said considerable progress in regional cooperation in the field will offer opportunities to generate more jobs and reduce poverty in the region.

Participants were reported on the New GMS Strategic Framework on Economic Cooperation (2012-2022) and the Investment Framework, prepared by the ADB, the process of prioritised programmes of the GMS Tourism Strategy and working plans of GMS tourism groups for 2013.

They issued a joint statement, affirming determination to speed up tourism cooperation in the sub-region to alleviate poverty and stimulate growth.

On January 21, ASEAN’s tourism executives held the 11 th meeting with their three counterparts of China , Japan and the Republic of Korea .

They highlighted the importance of strengthening cooperation between the group and the three partners in transportation, especially the initiatives of intensifying air linkages.

They also stressed the importance of technical assistance provided by the three partners in promoting ASEAN tourism.

At the event, a Plan of ASEAN+3 Tourism Cooperation for the 2013-2017 period was adopted.-VNA