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Business

Asean pushes tourism in regional integration

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - One community for sustainability.

The 10-member economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) continue to push for the promotion of the region as a single tourism destination to further drive economic growth.

The week-long 35th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) hosted by the Philippines is seen to push uptrends in the tourism sector in the region.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) expects the ongoing promotion of ASEAN will be felt in the various industry sectors as soon as the region starts to reap huge dividends from attracting global attention to its rich and diverse resources.

DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. considers the regional tourism integration as a milestone in consolidating the economies of the ASEAN countries into an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

“This would pave the way for the eventual operationalization of the AEC through the required points of connectivity that should be set up while generating businesses and incomes in the process and creating economies of scale,” he explained.

Bengzon noted that ASEAN tourism integration couldn’t have begun at a better time than this year which he called as “the dawn of a low fuel cost regime” that woud boost travel to and from the region.

Recent report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed fuel prices in 2015 declined 36 percent to an average Brent crude oil price of $65 per barrel from $101.4 per barrel in 2014.

Furthermore, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) growth forecast for the region remains unchanged from September 2015 update at 4.4 percent and 4.9 percent in 2016 despite various concerns of deceleration in economic giant China.

Record-breaking ATF 2016

The Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the marketing arm of DOT, announced the fourth time of the Philippine hosting has broken its previous records in terms of foreign buyers in attendance, number of participating countries, and the number of exhibitors and booths from the Philippines.

The ATF 2016 targets to present a singular opportunity for the world to see a new and dynamic Philippines in terms of overall development including tourism infrastructures and destination offerings.

“Philippine tourism’s contribution to the economy has been well-defined and valuable. It has become one of the anchors of the country’s growth,” ATF 2016 TRAVEX sub-committee chairperson Susan del Mundo said.

The ATF 2016 brings more than 2,600 delegates, 460 exhibition booths from across the 10-member economies where 150 came from the Philippines, and almost 500 international buyers from top markets such as Australia, France, Germany, India and Italy among others.

DOT has tapped over a thousand of workforce for the Philippines’ fourth time to host the ATF, including attached agencies, industry sectors, and security personnel.

“We are capitalizing on the unique diversity of the ASEAN’s culture, history and geography for top-of-mind brand recall, all for the socioeconomic benefit of region’s 622 million people,” Bengzon said.

Banking on PAL and LGUs

DOT is banking on the strategic role of flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) and the local government units (LGUs) to further promote the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign.

PAL, which will fly majority of the delegates, has a route network that spans to 39 foreign cities and 30 domestic destinations and a fleet of almost 80 aircraft.

“DOT is counting on them to enhance the distinctiveness of Philippine tourism to make it retain its individuality while contributing to the diversity of ASEAN and to make such diversity the commonality or the collective unique selling point of the region’s overall tourism brand,” DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said.

The provinces of Albay, Bohol, Cebu, Ilocos Norte and Palawan and the cities of Davao, Lapu-Lapu and Puerto Princesa will serve as host communities for the post-tours of the delegates and foreign media slated Jan. 23-26.

ACIRC

ASEAN

ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK

ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

BENGZON

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM

DOT

ECONOMIC COMMUNITY

ILOCOS NORTE AND PALAWAN

INDIA AND ITALY

TOURISM

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