Officials pose for a photo at the ASEAN+3 Tourism Ministers' Meeting in Quang Ninh province on January 18 (Photo: VNA)
 
Quang Ninh (VNS/VNA) - The Republic of Korea (RoK) will continue work on visas so that more people from ASEAN countries can easily make a visit, said Yu Byung-chae, Director General of the Tourism Industry Bureau under the RoK’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Yu was speaking at the meeting of ASEAN+3 (China, Japan and the RoK) Tourism Ministers in Ha Long city in northern Quang Ninh province on January 18.

“We have extended multiple visas for ASEAN countries. In Vietnam, the visa system will be improved by issuing short term multiple-entry visas for residents of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. We will continue various visa programmes for ASEAN countries, such as the issuance of electronic visas for tourist groups,” he said.

According to Yu, in 2018, the RoK welcomed a total of 2.3 million visitors from ASEAN members. In particular, Vietnam showed the largest increase with 480,000 tourists.

A large number of Korean tourists visited ASEAN countries, with 2.9 million visiting Vietnam, 1.5 million travelling to Thailand and 1.4 million to the Philippines, which are the most visited destinations in ASEAN.

While noting the significant increase of people-to-people exchange between ASEAN and the RoK and looking forward to the goal of reaching 15 million travellers by 2020, the RoK’s Government will implement initiatives to enhance mutual ties with ASEAN, he said.

The RoK will concentrate on creating its tourism sector through promoting peace tourism to develop tour products in militarised zones, promoting attractions at film locations and planning to organise an ASEAN welcome week so that ASEAN tourists feel more at home in the RoK.

Other tourism leaders from Japan and China also shared future plans of their countries to further enhance tourism co-operation with ASEAN member states.

They all agreed that ASEAN+3 tourism co-operation has great potential and broad prospects.

Hideyuki Tanaka, parliamentary vice-minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism of Japan, said visitors from ASEAN to Japan in 2017 reached a record high of 3 million.

“We place a great emphasis on outbound tourism. We believe in the value of tourism exchange which enhances mutual understanding and promotes peace among nations.

“Japanese public and private sectors seek to promote outbound tourism by exploring new attractive foreign destinations for Japanese travellers. Through these efforts, Japan will further increase the number of Japanese visitors to ASEAN countries,” he said.

Xiong Bo, Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam, proposed that ASEAN and China should share the best practices and experience of tourism in various areas such as creating employment, driving investment, stimulating consumption, reducing poverty, promoting economic transition, and achieving sustainable development to realise regional common development.

On the basis of equality and mutual benefits, the countries should promote data sharing of tourism and personnel exchanges, carry out joint promotion of tourism resources, support the development of high-quality tourism, encourage participating and organising tourism festivals and exhibitions.

Speaking about the outcomes of the 22nd meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers on January 17, Vietnamese Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien said the ministers agreed to diversify their tourism products through more than 130 products covering multi-ASEAN destinations.

Festivals, religious and cruise tourism will receive increased attention. Wellness, culture and heritage tourism will be at the core of ASEAN tourism this year, he said.

The ministers also reached an agreement on developing quality tourism, attracting tourism investment, enhancing capabilities of tourism professionals as well as increasing community and private sector participation.

The 23rd ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting will be held in January next year in Brunei under the theme “ASEAN-Together Towards A Next Generation Of Travel”.-VNS/VNA