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Cooperative Tourism and the Covid-19 Crisis

Sustainable recovery measures to support the tourism sector in the Asia-Pacific


29th April 2021 | Thursday

11:00 – 12:30 Indian Standard Time (GMT + 5:30)





The Asia-Pacific region achieved record numbers in terms of tourist arrivals and tourism receipts in 2018 and 2019:


  • 454.8 million international tourist arrivals in 2018 – this is up 4.7% compared to 2017 and accounted for 32.3% of global tourism arrivals.
  • USD 712.3 billion in export value (visitor spending) in 2019 representing 42.5% of global travel and tourism.


The tourism sector directly and indirectly contributed to all 17 goals of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), in particular, Economic Growth and Decent Work (SDG 8), Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (SDG 9), and Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12)[1]


As the entire tourism ecosystem experiences the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, reopening and rebuilding destinations requires a collaborative approach. Along with economy-wide stimulus packages benefiting tourism businesses and workers, many governments are also introducing tourism-specific measures. For eg. waiving of fees and charges for domestic airlines in Australia, relaxing regulations to support the growth of the tourism sector in South Korea, using training incentives to retain workforce in Thailand, among others. Ongoing support to the travel and tourism economy needs to be supplemented with more coordinated efforts, utilizing this crisis as an opportunity to rethink tourism for the future. This includes the areas of digitalization, supporting the transition to low carbon, and promoting structural transformation with concepts like responsible, sustainable and regenerative tourism[2]


About Cooperative Tourism


Cooperative tourism embraces cooperative principles of tourism development in destination management. In this context, cooperation denotes working together with common economic or social objectives, and a co-operative society is a voluntary association of persons working together to promote common economic interest. The members of the society come forward as a group, pool their individual resources, and utilise them in the best possible manner to derive common benefit. Such societies are either registered or un-registered under the law of the land. Community based tourism organisations (CBT) have close affinity with their host communities in rural settings and work together to derive common economic interest of its members; most often working along cooperative lines.


Tourism cooperatives are a subset of all cooperatives that aim to maintain ethical values in all aspects of services. These multipurpose cooperatives organise and manage all stages of tourism, which includes advertisement, guidance, accommodation, travel itineraries, holding domestic and foreign tours, travel and hospitality services, accommodation and related services, and dining houses and restaurants. There are also single purpose cooperatives that carry out a part of the job or provide a single service.


In the Asia-Pacific region, there are organisations that have their origins in cooperatives created to provide services for their members, particularly in Japan and Korea. There are also tourism cooperatives operating in China, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. Such cooperatives have played an important role in national development and perceive cooperative tourism as an effective tool for socio-economic development: creating employment and job opportunities for local people, promoting local culture, preserving the environment and earning foreign currency.




ICA Asia and Pacific (ICA-AP) and the ICA-EU Partnership[3]in collaboration with International Social Tourism Organisation (ISTO) and will host a webinar to bring together all interested stakeholders in cooperatives and/or tourism in the Asia-Pacific region with the following key objectives:


  • Identify and evaluate the cooperative advantage in promoting the interests and scope of the tourism industry
  • Share experiences in tourism cooperative development, addressing the issues of rising unemployment amidst the ongoing crisis and promotion of inclusive societies
  • Recognize the economic significance of cooperative tourism in terms of regional cooperation, trade, MSME support, job creation, skills enhancement, innovation, and the development of ICT


Tentative Agenda



Registration Link

About the organisers


International Cooperative Alliance Asia and Pacific (ICA-AP) is one of four regional offices of the ICA. Established in 1960 in New Delhi, India, it unites, promotes, and develops cooperatives in the region. ICA-AP’s 109 members from 31 countries spans a variety of sectors, including agriculture, credit and banking, consumer, education, fisheries, forestry, housing, and insurance.


The International Social Tourism Organisation (ISTO) was established in 1963 under the name of International Bureau of Social Tourism (BITS) as an international non-profit organisation. Bringing together stakeholders from the social, sustainable and solidarity tourism sectors from all over the world, ISTO promotes accessible and responsible tourism. is a regenerative tourism cooperative in Australia that builds community wealth when travellers book a holiday. Its aim is to help communities to realise the value of their tourism assets, by returning capital earned from those assets back to the community. The co-operative is owned by tourism boards, councils and its employees.



[1] Source:  APEC State of Tourism Report
[2] Regenerative tourism is “creating the conditions for life to continuously renew itself, to transcend into new forms, and to flourish amid ever-changing life conditions” (Hutchins and Storm, 2019) - through tourism.
[3] In March 2016, the ICA and the European Union signed a Framework Partnership Agreement to implement a development programme aimed at benefitting and advancing cooperatives worldwide.




Event start date:
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Event end date:
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Venue: Zoom Meeting