Sustainable Development of Tourism Destinations

In early 2014, the APEC Tourism Working Group came up with a report on sustainable tourism concepts, guidelines, indicators and certifications, which were insights from the Sustainable Development of Tourism Destinations study. Aside from tourism sustainable practices and guidelines, the study also resulted in the development of a tourism sustainability tool to provide insight and information on developing a sustainable tourist destination.

Growing Tourism Travel in the Region

Recovering from the 2008 financial crisis, travel and tourism in the region has shown consistent growth and contributed significantly to APEC economies. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism constituted 8.5% of total APEC GDP or USD 3.6 trillion in 2013. In the same year, the sector contributed 8.8% of total employment, and 4.9% of total exports (goods and services). Total APEC GDP contribution is expected to grow by 4.6% per year, adding over 40 million more jobs by 2024.

At the recent meeting of the APEC Tourism Working Group, Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, Chinese Taipei, United States have all reported that their inbound visits from overseas has continued to increase in 2013. The record also indicated increasing outbound tourism travel from APEC economies. According to China, its outbound tourism in 2013 reached 98.19 million. It is also important to note that domestic tourism remains strong. Indonesia noted 248 million movements in 2013.

Travel Facilitation Initiative

Following up on directives by APEC Leaders and Ministers, APEC member economies continue to implement travel facilitation initiatives to promote tourism in the region. A report in 2013 by the World Travel and Tourism Council and United Nations World Travel Organization projected that APEC visa facilitation could lead to 57 million additional tourists and USD 89 billion to GDP, resulting in some 2.6 million additional jobs. Since 2013, Japan has provided visa exemptions for tourists from Thailand and Malaysia. As a result, Japan has seen an increase of tourist numbers by 96% and 53%, respectively, between July-Dec 2013 after the visa relaxation. Japan also has provided a stay period extension for multiple-entry visas for tourists from Indonesia, and introduced multiple entry visas for the Philippines and Viet Nam. Chinese Taipei has also introduced a temporary permit for cruise passengers.

China, Japan, and Chinese Taipei have also introduced Muslim-friendly tourist programs to tap into the tourism market especially from economies with a significant Muslim population. The programs include prayer facilities at international airports, Muslim friendly services, information provision, and halal-food programs.

Improving Skill Standard to Facilitate Regional Integration

The APEC Tourism Working Group has taken the initiative to establish the APEC Skill Standards System. Since 2000, the project has developed almost 400 Skill Standard Units covering general and tourism sectors, the majority of which are based on the Indonesian and Australian National Competency Standards.

TWG has been working on developing occupational skill standards in the tourism industry with the aim of designing a training system that would significantly improve human resource development in APEC’s tourism sector. Regional confidence in training outcomes and qualifications awarded will stimulate intra-regional investment and the flow of human resources in the industry.

The skill standard developed by APEC has been utilized by individual economies as well as other regional organizations such as ASEAN in developing their own scheme of mutual recognition agreements in this area. TWG is continuing work to improve tourism skills in order to facilitate trade and investment in the sector.