By: Bundit LIMSCHOON the Secretary General of ACD –
Before the millennium, before the year 2000s, a role of Tourism in the economy is often
perceived as being limited to the hospitality industry, especially cafes, hotels and restaurants.
However, the economic impact of tourism currently is much greater, since many inputs are needed in
order to produce tourism and leisure services, spanning the whole range of farm, agri-food and
industrial production, including the production of capital goods as well as construction and public
works. Accordingly, “Tourism is largely justified on the basis of its catalytic role in broader social
and economic development.”
With the advent of the globalization process, the Information and Communication Technology
has allowed people across the globe to travel and make a journey to destinations where they were
almost inaccessible before. The development of infrastructure connectivity, especially low cost
transport system, is a vital element in these changes and favours the international tourism flows. “An
emergence of tourism as a truly global activity”.
Now, tourism, frequently referred to as ‘the world’s largest service industry’, is one of the
biggest and fastest growing business globally. Tourism is, now, also ‘accounts for the single largest
peaceful movement of people across cultural boundaries in the history of the world’
According to The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). The total impact of this
industry is impressive. In 2011, it contributed to 9% of global GDP, a value of over US$6 trillion, it
is anticipated that it will account for 328 million jobs, 1 in every 10 jobs on this planet. Tourism does
not just bring business to one country but right across the regions, driving new growth in Asia and the
As such, the development of tourism has usually been considered a positive contribution to
economic growth in countries which is tourism focused. The positive effects of tourism on a country’s
economy includes the growth and development of various industries directly linked with a tourism
industry, such as transportation, accommodation, arts and entertainment. It offers strong potential to
support jobs growth and revenue generated from foreign exchange, investments and payments of
goods and services provided.
However, while the impact of tourism to economic progress is greater, how to make tourism
sustainable and contribute more to developing countries, is still a challenge that requires urgent
Unplanned and uncontrolled tourism growth can result in such a deterioration of the
environment. The environment, being the lifeblood of tourism, should therefore be conserved in order
to sustain resources for long-lasting use and provide sustainable growth in economic development.
This is especially imperative with tourism based on the natural environment as well as on historicalcultural
Moreover, in many developing countries, tourism linkages are under developed and efficient
supports remain weak. Consequently, most of the profits in the tourism sector are exploited by foreign
investors, international tour operators and foreign airline companies, only limited benefits are
contributed to the locals. Therefore, in designing strategies for sustainable tourism, governments need
to assess and identify the potential linkages in the economy, or tourism-related value chains.
Apart from the economic impact, tourism is also a vehicle for cultural understanding and peace
development. Travelling to different areas of diversity can change attitudes and help gaining new
perspectives as well as forging better international relationships. The perfect example is this meeting
in Tabriz today where we have the excellent opportunity to explore one of the many beauties of Iran,
in parallel with the panel discussion to collectively achieve sustainable development of tourism.
In this connection, I, therefore, would like to thank the Government of the Islamic Republic
of Iran and the Cultural Heritage, Handicraft’s and Tourism Organization for hosting this inaugural
conference. At the same time, I am delighted to greet all the participants of the ACD Ministerial
Meeting on Tourism in this spectacular city of Tabriz. This is the first Ministerial-Level meeting on
tourism under our forum which brings together Ministers and Key Representatives from the tourism
sector to unify and forging cooperation related to tourism in sustainable manner.
Asia is an old continent with more than thousands of year-old ancient civilisations. It has a
long history of a splendid, rich cultural heritage and enchanting natural wonders. The population of
Asia is multi-ethnic, each with its own uniqueness, and warmth of hearts. All this could be translated
into advantage of our future potential together. With various destinations and differences to offer
within the regions, we would become each other’s value extension—partnership of developing
markets with the same goal of tourism development. Tourism would not just bring business to one
country but right across the regions, driving new growth in Asia. And this could happen within the
As a continent-wide forum stretches from far-east to middle-east including south and central
Asia, ACD is a platform for collective cooperation which benefits from as many as 34 Member States
and as many areas of interest to drive a tangible-oriented forum. The potential of ACD as a vast
difference forum will allow Members to find mutual partners to discuss innovations, trends, and
developments in the tourism industry and facilitate joint policy formulations to accelerate the growth
of the region’s tourism.
Literally, there had been the efforts of a working group on tourism since 2003 which Thailand
and Cambodia were Prime and Co-prime mover. The initiative of the ACD Tourism Business Forum
was proposed and the first meeting was hosted by Thailand in May 2003 in Phuket, attended by
representatives from both public and private tourism agencies. The forum discussed a variety of
current issues of concern within the tourism industry, such as intra-regional tourism promotion
initiatives, safety and security within the region, including human resources development and the
development of tourism SMEs, and the impact of SARS, (Severe acute respiratory syndrome), which
was an outbreak in southern China between November 2002 and July 2003, At the 8th ACD Ministerial
Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2009, the concept papers on tourism was also presented where Sri
Lanka agreed to be the coordinator for the tourism cluster.
We have seen the continual progress from the past and just in the nick of time, today, we once
again realised the need to emphasis on the growing importance of tourism industry. Today is an
important day that we reinstate the ambition to make greater efforts in enhancing closer cooperation
to facilitate the development of this industry, through perspective of regional and sub-regional
coordination within the ACD forum.
There are rich potentials of connectivity in ACD. Already, we have the Cultural Coordination
Center or CCCACD which aims to create solidarity among Asian Nations, further, we have an
established relationship with broader external cooperation like the Silk Road initiative. Such
dialogues with other players will help to build on projects and activities among various areas of
In the past, we may have been working from the standpoint of an individual country but from
now on, we could achieve huge opportunities that are present, from the continent-wide cooperation,
such as, one visa for 4 to 5 or more countries. Multi destinations package would allow benefit
extension to those surrounding countries.
Additionally, the proposed working group and meeting like this one, will be a venue to
exchange ideas for the progress of tourism sector, share common benefits between neighbouring
countries and achieve collective preservation of the Asian identity. Because ACD is more than an
opportunity, not only business activities but it is a hope to the future of Asian Community.
As a Secretary General, I agree and support the initiative to establish the ACD ad hoc working
group of tourism senior experts to draft a plan of action on sustainable development of tourism in
Asia, as suggested by I.R. Iran. I would heartily propose the outcomes to our Leaders for consideration
at the upcoming 2nd Summit in Thailand.
Finally, I wish to end my remarks by once again expressing my gratitude to the Islamic
Republic of Iran for its generous efforts in hosting this meeting. And my sincere appreciations to all
the distinguished delegates from our Member States joining together in significant event. As I would
always reiterate, the active participation and constructive engagement of Member States are most
vital to the success of the forum.