Tourist arrivals in BIMP-EAGA have steadily increased over the years and are forecast to grow further. The subregion offers many attractions because of the countries’ rich history, heritage, and culture. It is located in one of the world's most resource-rich regions that includes the Heart of Borneo and Sulu–Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion.
Tourism destinations and activities include world heritage sites, rainforests, sandy beaches, underwater diving and other aquatic sports, jungle trekking, and cultural and culinary tours. Investments in hotels and other tourism-related facilities and services also contribute to making the subregion appealing to tourists.
BIMP-EAGA countries are working together to take advantage of the boom in tourism by developing and promoting the subregion as a premier destination for ecotourism in Asia and the Pacific. Increasing cooperation in tourism can narrow development gaps by creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for communities in less developed areas.
The subregion needs to address several challenges to achieve its tourism goals. New air routes have been opened, but more flights are needed to connect BIMP-EAGA areas in order to promote the subregion as a multi-country destination. The same goes for improving transport connectivity by land and sea. Other challenges include differences in visa policies, poor coordination, and limited tourism information.
BIMP-EAGA has identified the following priority measures for tourism:
- Develop tourism access and support infrastructure. BIMP-EAGA will boost efforts to improve air, sea, and land transport connectivity and streamline immigration and visa policies to make it easier for tourists to travel to and within the subregion.
- Establish multi-country destinations primarily focused on community-based ecotourism. BIMP-EAGA will work with local governments, communities, and the private sector to develop tourist destinations; set up infrastructure and facilities to improve connectivity and protect tourism assets; and increase efforts to ensure tourists’ comfort and safety.
- Upgrade the skills of those working in the sector, particularly on ecotourism.
- Coordinate efforts to manage nature, culture and heritage. Participating countries will promote knowledge exchange and experience-sharing on standards and best practices.