GCC to see big growth in regional tourism
Manama, April 30, 2014
Cities in Asian countries, including the GCC, are set to receive a major boost in intra-regional tourism in the next 10 years, said a top official.
Asia Co-operation Dialogue (ACD) Provisional Secretariat secretary-general Bundit Limschoon told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, it was important for Asian nations to band together to increase levels of tourism.
He was speaking yesterday on the side lines of a high-level meeting on the establishment of a selection committee, guidelines and protocol for the Asian Tourism City (ATC) awards.
The meeting, which was held at the InterContinental Regency Bahrain, was attended by government officials, ambassadors from different Asian countries and tourism experts.
"It's really quite important for Asian countries to gain more tourism," he said.
"Unfortunately people love to go to New York, London or Paris. Why not Myanmar? So this concept is trying to promote the intra-Asia tourism. We're trying to promote it within Asia and make it more tangible.
"In the past, when we talk about an Asian co-operation, people always think that we are just talking. This is the first time we've translated our talks and ideas into a tangible result."
Manama has been named the first Asian Tourism City, and Limschoon believes that in 10 years' time the value of being awarded this title will be strong.
"We believe in five or 10 years, this will be a very valuable award," he added. "Not right now as this is the beginning phase, when not a lot of people know about the ATC."
He said ATC hosts need to see the award not as a competition but as a co-operation.
"What Bahrain did, which was very beautiful, when they got the award last year, they tried to translate it into an activity of co-operation," he explained.
"They joined to celebrate talent. As I understand, in the last two months, they have had Indian, Japanese and Chinese cultural events and even from Thailand or South Korea.
"They have a lot of performing arts and exhibitions. At the same time Bahrain also tries to promote the tourism industry of other countries,” he added.
Saudi Arabia will be the next ATC host, followed by Thailand in 2016 and Iran in 2018.
Limschoon added that another award could possibly be created in the future for education and health. Culture Ministry tourism affairs assistant under-secretary Shaikh Khalid bin Humood Al Khalifa told the GDN the aim of yesterday's meeting was to agree on selection criteria.
"What we gain from it is important," he said. "It's a back-to-back thing - we had Manama be the capital of culture and capital of tourism.”
“It promotes Bahrain and gives the ministry more support in terms of promotion and organisation of events, festivals, which at the end brings all cultures together. It's vital - we're currently working on both a GCC perspective and Asian perspective for intra-regional tourism strategy,” he added.
He also said that the list of countries being able to receive visa on arrival has increased from 26 to 32. – TradeArabia News Service