Tourism ministers of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) have decided to form an association comprising of tour operators of all its member countries to globally promote South Asia as a single tourism brand.
“We have decided to build a common platform of tour operators of all eight SAARC member countries to make combined tour packages to promote our exciting tourist destinations as a single brand,” said Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister G.M. Quader.
The decision was made at the last SAARC tourism ministerial meeting held in Katmandu middle of this month.
During the meeting, Quader said all the tourism ministers of the region opined that South Asia should be branded as a whole as a global tourism package.
The meeting revealed that currently, 10 million tourists are visiting SAARC countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – while the annual global movement is above one billion tourists.
The region’s share of the tourism revenue is only 10 billion US dollar out of one trillion businesses from global tourism.
The ministers for tourism of the region decided to work together for the development of tourism at the meeting. “We opined that we won’t compete with each other in tourism business rather we will compliment each other’s business and will launch combined tourism promotional activities in future,” he said.
Promotion of the SAARC region as a common tourist destination by enhancing the role of the private sector, human resource development, promotion of the South Asian identity through tourism, development of cultural and eco- tourism were also discussed in the meeting.
They also discussed the possibility of launching joint marketing campaigns, softening visa regime, giving access to cross-border driving licenses and increasing inter-SAARC movement by air by the national flag carrier of each country, Bangladesh Tourism Minister said.