US-ASEAN Business Council pushes for innovation to achieve sustainable and inclusive tourism at the 23rd Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers (M-ATM) in Brunei

The US-ASEAN Business Council led its annual mission to the 23rd Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers in Brunei, supporting the theme of “ASEAN: Together towards a Next Generation of Travel.” The delegation was comprised of leading U.S. companies in the Travel and Tourism sector, namely, Expedia, Marriott International, Airbnb, Agoda, and SAP. The Council pushed for innovation including sharing insights from the digital economy and offering best practices in human capability building as ASEAN aims to position itself as a single destination for tourism.

The Mission was co-led by Ambassador Michael W. Michalak, Senior Vice-President & Regional Managing Director of US-ABC, and Mr. Choo Pin Ang, Senior Director for Government and Corporate Affairs of Expedia Group and chair of the Council’s Travel and Tourism Committee set up in 2018 to highlight the role of US companies in growing ASEAN tourism markets.

“The Next Generation of Travel presents great opportunities for ASEAN to leverage and strengthen its economic and socio-cultural pillars. We are particularly grateful to the host country Brunei for the warm welcome and hospitality this year. Brunei’s chairmanship of the 23rd M-ATM facilitates the necessary mid-term stock-taking of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (2016-2025) and creates momentum for fellow ASEAN countries and tourism players to collaborate and achieve the region’s vision of being a quality tourism destination by 2025. The Council is committed to helping ASEAN achieve its sustainable and inclusive tourism goals,” stated Ambassador Michalak.

The delegation met with the following officials:

H.E. Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali Bin Apong, Brunei Minister of Primary Resources and

Tourism

H.E. Thong Khon, Cambodia Minister of Tourism

H.E. Mohamaddin Bin Haji Ketapi, Malaysia Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture

H.E. U Ohn Maung, Myanmar Minister of Hotels and Tourism

The Honorable Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Philippines Secretary of Tourism

H.E. Le Quang Tung, Vietnam Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism

H.E. Angela Tanoesoedibjo, Indonesia Vice-Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy

Mr. Siraphop Duangsodsri, Advisor to Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports

Mr. Sounh Manivong, Director General of Tourism Marketing Department, Laos Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism

Mr. Chang Chee Pey, Singapore Tourism Board Assistant Chief Executive

The delegation also met with Japan Tourism Agency Vice Commissioner International Tourism Department Jun Takashina and Mr. Scott Woodard, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy in Brunei.

Travel and tourism are important growth drivers in the trade in services between the U.S. and ASEAN. ASEAN visitors add $5 billion to the U.S. economy annually. These sectors play an important role in facilitating and promoting people-to-people exchanges. Nearly 1.2 million people from ASEAN member states visit the United States and over 4 million Americans visit ASEAN yearly.

“The travel and tourism sector plays an important role in contributing to a country’s economic growth and is focused on bringing the world within reach for aspiring travelers and partners across the travel ecosystem – both of whom are increasingly digitally savvy and strongly influenced by innovative and creative content online. The sector has significant direct and indirect economic impacts such as creating job opportunities, increasing tourist spending while benefiting the growth of local hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transport services.

Opportunities are abound for US companies to work closely with ASEAN governments to identify holistic solutions to develop and market ASEAN as a competitive and unique integrated tourism destination. Promoting inclusive and responsible tourism remains at the core of this, and we hope to be the partner of choice for ASEAN member states and the region as a whole,” said Expedia Group’s Mr. Ang.

This week’s mission to Brunei marks the Council’s 3rd annual delegation to the Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers. The Council led its inaugural mission to the 21st M-ATM in Chiang Mai, Thailand January 22-26, 2018 and followed up with another mission to Ha Long Bay, Vietnam January 16-18, 2019 for the 22nd M-ATM.

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For over 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.