The future of tourism in ASEAN
With the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and the end of the Cold War, there was no longer a pressing need for ASEAN countries to fear their Communist neighbours such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. These countries had started to abandon central planning and implement market-oriented economic reforms from the early 80s, changes which had significant implications for trade and investment opportunities and indicated the need for enlargement of the ASEAN regional grouping in order to maintain its relevance (Wong, Mistilis & Dwyer, 2011a). The momentum to expand ASEAN was further accelerated by the need to strengthen the region’s voice in ...view middle of the document...
Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia remain relatively poor compared to more developed ASEAN states, leading to fears of a two-tiered ASEAN in which convergence of economies will remain problematic. Even within relatively buoyant national economies such as Thailand, problems of relative rural poverty uneven development between poorer regions and Bangkok, and a notable gap between rich and poor remain clear indicators of unsustainable patterns of development. Further, the ‘ultra-poor’ (kon yak jon dak darn) have remained unaffected by patterns of national economic growth. Thailand’s Social Security Act, social benefits programme, small grant schemes, the village fund programme, debt suspension programmes for farms, and cheap hospital access have a limited role in bridging the urban-rural income divide, and have not been able to rectify poor educational enrolment levels in the countryside.
To assist in the integration process, China has agreed to open its market to some ASEAN members five years in advance through the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers and the facilitation of trade and investment. The idea is to establish a comprehensive and close relationship between the parties involving an FTA (Free Trade Agreement), cooperation in finance, regional development, technological assistance, macroeconomic cooperation, and other issues of common concern (Ferguson, 2004).
ASEAN ISIS suggests that the ultimate form of integration for the AEC is the creation of a fully-integrated market (a Common Market) in 2020. A Common Market is understood to be an arrangement in which there are complete free flows of trade, including internal trade, as well as free mobility of labour and capital. Full mobility of labour involves the right to reside and accept employment in all member countries, and mutual recognition of professional and technical qualifications. Full capital mobility requires lack of exchange controls, and full rights of establishment for firms in all countries (Hew & Soesastro, 2003).
Importance of ASEAN for Tourism
According to Yap (2011), there is some evidence showing that economic integration leads to strong trade growth in the region. ASEAN exports in 2007 surged dramatically compared to the year 1999. Singapore’s export to its neighbouring countries surged from US$35 billion in 1999 to US$95 billion in 2007, whereas Indonesia’s export increased from merely US$8.3 billion to US$22 billion. Similarly, the value of imports from the main East Asia countries to the ASEAN members has grown significantly between 1999 and 2007. Indonesia’s import from ASEAN countries in 2007 was US$23 billion, which is about five times the import value in 1999. These trends, for imports and exports, were evident for all 10 countries albeit from a very low base for countries such as Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Moreover, the improvement of these economies may indicate that intra and interregional travel has become affordable for their...