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Newly launched AEN aims to boost ecotourism in Asia

Bangkok, Thailand is now home to the newly formed Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) launched on Tuesday 2nd June. The AEN will serve to facilitate greater collaboration on the development of eco tourism across its member states, which includes Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and China among others in the region.

Newly launched AEN aims to boost ecotourism in Asia

Tuesday 2nd June 2015 marked the official launch of the Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) in Bangkok, Thailand.

The AEN is made of a number of country representatives from across the region including key stakeholders and leading eco-tourism experts from government agencies, NGOs, businesses and academia.

The AEN aims to stimulate knowledge sharing on developing and promoting green tourism across the region. Masaru Takayama, Founding Chair of AEN, explained:

"[AEN] will provide more networking and business opportunities, significant information, educational materials and networking prospects to both small and large organizations within Asia."

Member states in the region include, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, South Korea, Mongolia, India, Laos, Pakistan, Bhutan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Bangkok will serve as the headquarters for the AEN until 2017 with a potential extension beyond that date. Nalikatibhag Sangsnit the director general of Thailand's Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA), a co founder of AEN, has expressed the view that the AEN provides an opportunity for Thailand to highlight its successful eco tourism initiatives on an international level.

Recent research has shown that eco friendly holidays will increase in importance among travellers in the coming years. A 2012 report indicated that growth in global spending on eco-tourism is expected to outpace that of the wider tourism industry and could account for as much US $470 billion per year in revenues.

These findings were supported by a 2014 TripAdvisor survey, where more than half of the respondents (57 percent) stated that they often made eco-friendly holiday decisions. Half of the holidaymakers surveyed stated that they would spend more money for a stay in an eco friendly hotel with 23 percent saying they would spend an additional $25 per night for a green hotel while nine per cent said they would be willing to spend an extra $25-$50.

These findings clearly indicate that eco-tourism has developed beyond the stereotypical budget friendly concept- a fact that makes the case for the AEN even more convincing.

"Nowadays, eco-tourism is attracting high-end tourists and increasingly driving huge revenues in tourism industry. DASTA has been developing several eco-tourism products in our designated areas, for example low carbon tourism and gastronomy tourism, to meet this intensifying demand."

Concluded Mr. Sangsnit.

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