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EAGA promoted as one tourism destination

Tourism officials of the East Asean Growth Area (Eaga) are setting off …

Tourism officials of the East Asean Growth Area (Eaga) are setting off to market the entire Eaga area as one tourism destination to offset the adverse effect of SARS and the worldwide terror scare that have slowed down tourist arrivals in the region.

Alex Rajukumar, principal assistant director of Malaysia`s Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture, said this was the consensus made by the tourism working group to allow the Eaga region to face up to the threats confronting the tourism industry now.

Rajukumar, who presented the status report of the Eaga tourism working group in a forum here, said marketing Eaga as one would mean that tourists visiting Malaysia will get to hear about the rest of the BIMP, allowing the rest of the region to make the most of the existing tourist traffic. Eaga is the growth area composed of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The Philippines has been asked to lead the task force for the marketing and promotion of Eaga and is coming up with a video documentary showing Eaga`s major attractions; while Indonesia leads a joint research team to study the eco-tourism potential of Eaga.

To attract more tourists, BIMP has come up with an agreement on travel tax exemptions; set up facilities for swift and convenient ferry crossing in between the four areas; and to harmonize border checkpoints to attract travelers.

New air routes have also been planned out; the newest one include the Jakarta-Pontianak-Kuching route served by Batavia Air; the Tawan-Tarakan-Balikpapan air routes and the Kuala Lumpur-Pontianak-Balikpapan routes served by Malaysia Airlines and the Brunei-Balikppan route by Royal Brunei Airlines.

Meanwhile, each country has come up with US$1,000 for the development of a tourism website for the Eaga.

Aside from improving existing tourism services in the region and upgrading the skills of travel workers, the Eaga tourism sector plans to participate in as many international tourism fairs and expositions this year in order to boost its profile in the global tourism industry. (PNA-TNA)

Theodore Koumelis
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