KUALA LUMPUR - ASEAN countries should promote the region as a single tourism destination.
In making the call, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said a collective effort to showcase ASEAN as a top leisure and business destination would deepen integration and benefit the region's economies.
"The benefits of showcasing all ASEAN has to offer do not end with tourism.
"The potential knock-on effects are substantial, especially when we consider that foreign direct investment in ASEAN has outstripped even China in recent years," the Prime Minister said at the launch here of GOASEAN, the first 24-hour travel channel focusing on the region.
The channel, broadcast on satellite network Astro, highlights top attractions such as shopping, sports, music, festivals and food in each ASEAN country.
Programmes featuring the numerous Unesco World Heritage sites in ASEAN, where to go for "must-try" coffee, as well as top sights and activities in capital cities are among the highlights of the channel.
Produced with the help of ASEAN members, GOASEAN is the brainchild of Najib, who described it as a window into the countries of the region.
"GOASEAN is a fine example of all that can be achieved when the members of ASEAN work together," he said.
The Prime Minister added that setting up the channel was part of a bigger bid by Malaysia as ASEAN chairman this year to promote a people-centred ASEAN.
Showcasing the region as a single destination could encourage more people in ASEAN to travel to each other's countries.
"This initiative is not only about tourism and travel but also abut realising the vision of a people-centred ASEAN, something I believe is important to our region moving forward.
"It's about making ASEAN and the ties that bind us tangible realities for the citizens of our 10 nations."
With ASEAN expected to generate a combined gross domestic product of US$3 trillion (RM11 trillion) by 2017, Najib said there was a real opportunity to boost the travel industry and promote intra-ASEAN tourism.