The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has created a $1.7 million worth of technical assistance facility to help in the recovery of the tourism sector of Asean countries from the pandemic.
The Southeast Asia (SEA) Sustainable Tourism Facility aims to boost inclusive, sustainable development in the sector, and help local tourism entrepreneurs, especially women and youth, adopt digital platforms to grow their businesses.
ADB said the facility will also help policymakers design visas, online short-term rentals, and other policies to attract longer-staying, higher-spending visitors and remote workers, allow more small entrepreneurs to legitimately operate accommodation services, and boost tourism tax revenues.
“This new facility aims to help ADB’s developing member countries in Southeast Asia revive tourism, which has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said ADB Principal Tourism Industry Specialist for SEA Steven Schipani.
“Projects supported by the facility will develop green and resilient urban and transport infrastructure in secondary cities to improve the tourism sector’s competitiveness, help create jobs, protect the environment, and accelerate inclusive digital transformations,” he also said.
The facility includes a $500,000 grant from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund. In addition, ADB will administer a $225,000 grant contribution from the Project Readiness Improvement Trust Fund financed by the Nordic Development Fund.
ADB will also administer a $500,000 grant from the Republic of Korea e-Asia and Knowledge Partnership Fund and a $500,000 grant from the Spanish Cooperation Fund for Technical Assistance.
In 2019, travel and tourism accounted for 12.1 percent of SEA’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employed 42 million workers, mostly women working for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
But international visitor arrivals dropped 82 percent in 2020 from 2019, while domestic tourism remains constrained by travel restrictions and reduced economic activity. The sector’s contribution to regional GDP fell by 53 percent in 2020, pushing more people into poverty.
Even before Covid-19, SEA trailed global tourism competitiveness benchmarks for ground, port, and urban infrastructure, information and communication technology readiness, and environmental sustainability.
Governments hope to address these challenges in tandem with efforts to revive tourism. The facility will support key tourism-related priorities set out by the Asean and sub-regional tourism strategies in SEA. 30
Image courtesy of Bernard L. Supetran