The Summit Conference by the World Economic Forum about East Asia was held in Bangkok on 30 may 2012 with the theme "Open Border Gates: via tourism, trade and travel revive the economic growth in Asia". The conference took place in the context of the international organizations, government officials and businesses have been considering that the Southeast Asia Nations have a great potential to develop tourism and travel. ASEAN Unification is the common aspiration of the people. It needs to speed up for the balance inside the association, thus the small and medium enterprises of ASEAN can benefit from the ASEAN's economic structure and those of tourism industry are of no exception.
The conference got the agreement that the tourism industry contributes to creating jobs and stimulating economic growth. From the statistics, it is concluded that every 36 tourists brings about a new job. The income from tourism contributes directly 4.6% of ASEAN GDP and if indirect contribution is taken into account the rate can be up to 10.9%. The tourism industry also directly create 9.3 million jobs (accounting for 3.2% of total ASEAN employments) and indirectly handle about 25 million jobs.
According to a report on the competitiveness among the travel and tourism industries of the World in 2012, of 139 countries, Singapore is at no.10, Malaysia no.35, Thailand no.41, Brunei no.67, Indonesia no.74, Vietnam no.80. The report shows that in most ASEAN countries, the tourism potential has not been exploited much due to such constraints as inadequate infrastructure, low health facilities, poor environmental management.. Besides, visa procedures which are cumbersome and outdated have hampered the growth of ASEAN tourism.
The Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development Supachai recommended that firstly, ASEAN countries need to exchange information and data so that when a traveler has passed a border gate, he can go through the others without checking. Secondly, the period of stay in each ASEAN country can be varied so that it requires an unity among the countries. Thirdly, the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community prior to 2015 also means that ASEAN countries must standardize such fields as trade, capital and human resources, it needs to build 7 - 8 standardized concepts.
One of the main objectives of the program "Strategy of ASEAN Tourism Development 2011-2015" signed by Tourism Ministers of 10 ASEAN countries is to grant "ASEAN Senghen" visa valid for five years. Some of the ASEAN countries have upgraded visa system through the expansion of cooperation and the associations among the tourism units and improvement of the technological level. February 2012, Thailand and Cambodia began to issue tourist visas for groups and scheduled to disseminate this project to Vietnam and Laos before the end of this year. An electronic visa system of ASEAN is also a solution to consider. Today, Cambodia has implemented e-visa, Myanmar also began to apply this system in March this year.