Market diversification needed to anticipate European crisis: vp

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Vice President Boediono said market diversification was needed to anticipate the impact of the European crisis on the tourism sector.

He said when opening the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Manado, North Sulawesi, on Thursday the European crisis would affect the tourism sector.

He said the crisis that had hit European countries and the US had increased the number of unemployed people in those countries.

Meanwhile, contributions from European and US tourists to the tourism sector remained high. "The fact is Europe is indeed the biggest tourism market for the ASEAN region but right now Europe is having problems," he said.

Therefore, he said. market diversification was needed. He said the Asian economy would continue to grow and the markets that are now developing could become the markets to rely on in exchange for Europe that would continue to be eroded.

Boediono said 43 percent of tourists in the ASEAN region come from within the region and two thirds of them from ASEAN plus China, Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The economic growth that would remain quite strong to boost growth of the middle-class meanwhile would make markets in Asia to be the ones to rely on, he said.

Boediono meanwhile also expressed the importance of increasing cooperation to develop the tourism sector by implementing the ASEAN tourism strategic plans.

"What we need is not only the arrival of tourists but also quality and sustainability," he said.

Boediono also appealed for the implementation of a free-visa facility among ASEAN member countries and a common visa policy that has been agreed before.

He said he believed the tourism sector in ASEAN would continue to grow in line with the strong economic growth in Asia.

The secretary general of the World Tourism Organizatoin, Thaleb D Rifai also called on ASEAN countries to be alert on the economic crisis in Europe.

He said the impact of the crisis could possibly be felt but the economic growth and strong desire to travel in the region would bring hope to the region.

He said he believed tourism in ASEAN would continue to grow. "Tourism is one of the sectors which could still stand crisis," he said.

He said in 2011 tourism still grew four percent despite the European crisis and the world economic slowdown while in the ASEAN region the sector grew faster at 9.0 percent. (*)