VIENTIANE, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Tourism ministers from the Association of Southeast  Asian Nations (ASEAN) adopted on Wednesday a declaration calling for a roadmap to strategically identify, plan and develop an inter-connected network of ecotourism sites.

Adopted at the ASEAN Ecotourism Forum 2016 held in southern Laos' Champasak Province, the Pakse Declaration on ASEAN Roadmap for Strategic Development of Ecotourism states that the ecotourism clusters and tourism corridors will be developed to traverse all ASEAN member countries, transcending borders and wildlife frontiers, facilitating tourists' travel deep into rural areas and nature reserves and allowing them to experience the essence of ASEAN's ecotourism attractions.

The ministers state in their declaration that the visionary development will unlock economic opportunities along overland and river routes; a major socio-economic initiative to create employment and uplift communities, revitalize idle natural resources and transform impoverished rural areas, Lao state-run news agency KPL reported Wednesday.

The Pakse Declaration is expected to be tabled at the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane Capital in September 2016.

The ASEAN Ecotourism Forum 2016 fell under the theme "ASEAN without Borders: A Roadmap for the Strategic Development of Eco-tourism Clusters and Tourism Corridors" and was held on June 22 in Pakse, Champassak Province, some 470 km southeast of Lao capital Vientiane by aerial distance.

The forum was held in the presence of Lao Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara, ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh, ASEAN Tourism representatives, and representatives of World Tourism.

"This forum is an opportunity for ASEAN countries to cooperate closely to achieve ASEAN Vision 2025 and ASEAN Tourism Strategy (2016-2025). By 2025, ASEAN will become a quality tourist destination blessed with unique identities and diverse experiences, " said Bosengkham.

The Lao minister urged member countries to fulfil obligations to develop tourism in a responsible, participatory and balanced manner to contribute to the promotion of social and economic wellbeing in the ASEAN community.