With the Asean Sustainable Tourism Awards (ASTA) approaching for the first time in January 2018, the Lao Tourism sector is preparing to inform the public on how to classify sustainable operators for entry.
Launched as part of Asean’s Tourism Strategic Plan 2016-2025, the ASTA were recently introduced and all sustainable tourism operators in Southeast Asia will be eligible to enter.
The awards will occur every two years with a dedicated theme decided jointly by Asean NTOs. The inaugural 2017-18 awards, which are now open, is themed “nature-based tourism.”
Deputy Director General of Tourism Development Department under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism Mrs Phonemaly Inthaphome, stated that “ASTA is the recognition of Asean’s best sustainable rural or urban tourism products, proposed and implemented by the public and private stakeholders who have decided to join forces for the benefit of their destination.”
“Each Asean country has its own trainers and committees of Asean standards, to select winners in their countries. We are now translating the documents into Lao before dispersing them to all tourism sectors and operators in provinces for entering the awards next month,” she added.
Two winners will represent each country, one “rural” and one “urban” to reaffirm that city operators can be just as sustainable as rural ones.
After the winners are chosen, they will be submitted to Asean by November before receiving awards in January, 2018.
The deputy director general emphasized that the awards required high standards for classifying winners; therefore in Laos, the main tourism provinces of Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and Champassak would likely be the focus of the majority of entries.
According to the Tourism Development Department, twenty sustainable tourism winners, with two from each Asean member state, will receive a package of benefits that will raise their business profile substantially, and will be highlighted on Asean’s website www.aseantourism.travel.
Winners will be highlighted on the National Tourism Organisation’s (NTO) website, and receive exposure as a national best practice operator during press conferences and trade shows such as ATF, TRAVEX, International Tourism in Berlin of Germany and World Travel Market.
In addition, winners will be invited on stage to receive a trophy and recognition during the sustainable tourism awards event, which will be part of the ATF in Chiang Mai, January 2018.
Director General of Tourism Marketing Department, Mr Sounh Manivong, stated that the key purpose for the awards is to highlight the profile and importance of sustainable tourism businesses in Southeast Asia, promote responsible tourism in all Asean countries, combat seasonality, and rebalance tourist flows towards best practice tourism experiences.
Asean has decided to encourage responsible behaviours amongst stakeholders – in mainstreaming the implementation of the Asean Tourism Standards – and to also facilitate the diversification of tourism supply towards emerging, remote destinations and areas.
The ASTA enables the region to recognize and promote sustainable tourism, both rural and urban products, promoting presence in the Asean market and beyond.