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Updated APEC Guidelines for Tourism Stakeholders

11th APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting (TMM 11)  

In 2020, APEC Economic Leaders endorsed the Putrajaya Vision 2040, in which leaders committed to build “an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040”. The Aotearoa Plan of Action (APA), which aims to implement the Putrajaya Vision 2040, highlights the objective of “advancing work on sustainable tourism.” The Tourism Working Group will work toward implementing the Putrajaya Vision 2040 and APA. Despite constant impact of disruptive changes and challenges, notably the endless cycle of COVID-19 outbreaks, the shared sentiment of APEC members to support regional sustainable economic growth and economic resilience has always been given prominence to ensure a collective approach is taken as a driver of growth, integration and innovation in addressing issues within our region.

In accordance with APEC Tourism Ministers’ remarkable and consistent dedication to achieving strong, balanced, secure, sustainable and inclusive growth through responsible use of environmental resources, we continue to pursue sustainable tourism development within the Asia-Pacific Region to bring palpable benefits and greater health and wellbeing to all. Also noting global efforts towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

In seeking to address issues that pose as an obstacle to fostering inclusive and sustainable economic growth within the APEC region, we look to ensure services in the tourism industry are delivered in an efficient and effective manner. Furthermore, giving prominence to sustainable economic development in a balanced and integrated approach that pursues regional economic development through collaborative action. Hence, the necessity of ensuring a more deliberate and guided measure for service providers to increase travel and tourism flows in the region to distribute the social and economic benefits of tourism.

Prior to the unprecedented and atypical COVID-19 crisis, the tourism industry grew significantly, notably having a profound impact on trade within the APEC region. In 2019, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) stated that the industry alone generated more than 10% of global GDP and provided approximately 334 million jobs worldwide. [1] Nonetheless, as the result of the COVID-19 outbreaks, the latest annual research of WTTC indicates that the tourism sectors have suffered a decline of 3.7% of global GDP in 2020, as well as a constant loss of 62 million jobs, leaving only 272 million employed.[2]

Despite the impact of COVID-19, the tourism sector has the potential to recover strongly. This recovery rests on the integration and synergised efforts of regional tourism stakeholders to promote an integrated Asia Pacific through sustainable and inclusive measures. These guidelines aim to provide a holistic approach to rebuilding the tourism industry across the region, including thought investment, creation of employment opportunities, human resource development, occupational standards, and training and effective MSME support. The guidelines must also reflect the need to reduce barriers that have a direct impact on visitor exports and tourist flows in the region. The development of improved cooperation and coordination mechanisms will in-turn allow for the benefits of the tourism industry to be shared to all groups, including MSMEs, women and others with untapped economic potential. It is our role to ensure that we help guide policy making in the region to reflect strong support for tourism growth in the region.

The APEC Guidelines for Tourism Stakeholders also seeks to add-value to the APEC Guidelines on Ensuring Tourist Safety, which was endorsed by APEC Ministers in 2012. By taking collective approaches to provide conduct benchmarks for different aspects of the tourism industry, we as APEC member economies will achieve our collective vision of promoting economic integration in the region.

The Guidelines will be available for use by member economies on a voluntary basis.

The Guidelines may apply to APEC Tourism Stakeholders in the Tourism industry that fall under the following categories:

• Tourism Investors 
The growth of tourism flows has required and been facilitated by investment in infrastructure, transportation, accommodation, dining, entertainment and other facilities. Investment by the private and public sectors is critical to make natural and cultural resources accessible.[3]

• Community-Based Tourism (CBT) 
Community-Based Tourism involves interactions between visitors and the host community, particularly suited to rural and regional areas. CBT is managed and owned by the community, for the community. It is a form of ‘local’ tourism, favoring local service providers and suppliers. It also focuses on interpreting and communicating the local culture and environment [4], which is harmonious with the local traditional economic activities, CBT contributes to the development of the community, being its culture and natural environment as the key and differentiating components that make up its tourism product.

• Craftspeople
People dedicated to the elaboration and production of goods (textile, carving, ceramics, weaving, among others) by hand or with manual tools, whose expression seeks to revalue their own traditions either in terms of historical, cultural, utilitarian or aesthetic value of the goods.

• Food and Beverage Sector 
The Food and Beverage service is described as the preparation, presentation and serving of food and beverage to customers, and includes regional cuisine services that highlight traditional or sustainable practices.

• Accommodation Sector 
Refers to the accommodation sector (i.e. hotels, motels, lodges, guesthouses, homestay, back-packers), and includes green accommodation providers that are environmentally friendly through means of implementing programmes within the organisational structure that is environmentally friendly, green and sustainable.

• Tour Operators
Tour Operators are businesses that combine two or more travel services and sell them through travel agencies or directly to final consumers as a single product for a global price. [5]

• Non-Governmental Organisations 
Private organisations are characterised primarily by humanitarian or cooperative objectives, rather than commercial ones. NGOs are a subset of the broader non-profit sector that engages in domestic and international development. [6]

• Shared Economy 
The platforms in the sharing economy use technology to connect people who have private excess capacity to those who want to purchase.[7]

Guiding Principles
• Respect local resource custodians, traditions and culture.
• Enhance sustainable and responsible travel and tourism.
• Encourage the exchange of information and open dialogue.
• Foster human resource development, skills training and occupational standards tools for a stronger industry workforce including workers with disabilities.
• Utilise innovative technologies to improve economic, social, cultural, and environmental wellbeings and establish partnerships.
• Identify synergies and utilise resources through Public Private Partnership to encourage tourism investment in the APEC region.
• Strengthening the resiliency of tourism to prepare for future shocks

1. Respectful and Responsible Travel and Tourism
• Acknowledge and understand that the region consists of diverse cultures, traditions, customs, local wisdom, which underpin the values of respectful and responsible travel and tourism in the Asia-Pacific.
• The conduct of the hosting community and tourists alike should be harmonious with a common understanding of the respect for law and or customs.
• Give prominence to the significance of sustainability and ensure service providers and tourists are environmentally conscious. Reduce, reuse, and recycle are key actions to ensuring the environment in which local communities reside, cultural heritage sites are located and tourism products exist is vital.
• Promote cultural exchanges and preserve local tradition, art, storytelling, and song and dance.
• Explore sustainable initiatives in collaboration with non-governmental organisations and local communities to create efficient means of delivering tourism goods and services.

2. Inclusivity in the Travel and Tourism Industry
• Noting that as tourism development is a powerful tool in society, we are encouraged to create opportunities for all, including MSMES, women and others with untapped economic potential. We will cooperate to further develop work in support of youth, people living with disabilities, and aging citisens, among others.
• Provide opportunities for local communities in both urban and rural areas to directly participate in re-employment and providing goods and services to tourism businesses in the supply chain.
• The cross-cutting nature of the travel and tourism industry requires a robust approach to ensuring all groups, including MSMEs, women and others with untapped economic potential to have access to finance, entrepreneurial skills and technical advice and assistance.
• Provide new opportunities and support schemes for MSMEs, particularly women-led and owned MSMEs, in the tourism industry through consultation with relevant stakeholders.
• Strive to make APEC economies safe and traveler-friendly destinations by imposing tourism security and safety measures to re-build confidence and providing necessary comforts for a diverse range of travelers, such as; travelers with disabilities, of different ages and, gender identities, cultural travelers, adventure travelers, and so forth.
• Urge inclusive community-based tourism through initiatives that aim to enhance the well-being of local communities.
• Stimulate discussion through dialogues that identify best practices in delivering inclusive programmes and initiatives through tourism and travel. Robust discussions should have concrete outcomes that will help direct the sustainable and equitable growth of the industry.

3. Collaboration Opportunities and Initiatives
• Acknowledge the private sectors pivotal role in keeping the industry vibrant and robust.
• Encourage participation in private-public dialogues that initiate discussion on issues such as challenges, regulation and legislation that will directly impact performance of the travel and tourism industry, especially in the post-COVID-19 era.
• Be encouraged by best practices experiences and identify synergies to add value to existing projects and initiatives.
• Harness tourism investment that will boost sustainable economic recovery and expand economic opportunities.

4. Smart Travel and Tourism
• Acknowledge the development and growth of disruptive technology as well as its potential benefits for the travel and tourism industry.
• Acknowledge both the potential and limitations of emerging economic activities, e.g., sharing economy, especially those related to consumer safety, fraud, data privacy, employee protection and anti-competitive practices.
• Facilitate seamless and safe cross-border travel by exploring approaches to enable the interoperability of digital vaccination certificates, including technological infrastructure that can authenticate multiple digital international standards.
• Consult with relevant stakeholders to determine the opportunities within the ‘shared economy’ through the formulation of modernised policy frameworks that consider the nature of the shared economy.
• The protection of the operator and consumer is vital to ensuring the success of a shared business model in the tourism industry.

5. Administration of Guidelines
• The APEC Guidelines for Tourism Stakeholders will act as a benchmark for APEC economies to ensure the tourism industry continues to grow robust, mindful and resilient.
• The TWG encourages APEC economies to observe the Guidelines in the conduct of their tourism activities.
• To promote cross-fora collaboration in APEC, TWG members are encouraged to initiate joint efforts/initiatives between fora and share the experiences of the Guidelines.
• Guidelines will be utilised by member economies on a voluntary basis. Members will be encouraged to share best practices in the voluntary implementation of the Guidelines at TWG meetings.