The prospects for tourism in ASEAN are promising, according to a United Nations official.
“The global economic challenge is difficult. However, Indonesia, like other ASEAN destinations, will not be directly affected by this crisis,” UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) secretary general Taleb Rifai said on Thursday at the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Manado, North Sulawesi.
Rifai said tourist arrivals in the region were up 9 percent in 2011, more than twice the global rate of 4.4 percent and much better than in the Middle East, which saw an 8 percent drop.
“It means that the economic situation didn’t impact the inflow of people and tourism that much," he said.
The middle class in the emerging countries was identified as a good potential market for ASEAN’s tourism sector.
“China’s middle class grew by 50 percent, while Russia’s and Brazil’s middle classes rose by 21 percent and 22 percent, respectively,” Rifai said.
According to the joint statement released by ASEAN tourism ministers, the region attracted 79 million visitors last year, with 43 percent of all international arrivals coming from within the region.