Travel and Tourism

Asean tourism in focus at the ATF, Travex 2016

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Some 2,620 delegates from 64 countries are coming over to see what the 10-member Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) has to offer.

The huge foreign delegation to the forthcoming ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2016 in Manila includes 86 members of the media from 37 countries and 438 confirmed buyers from 64 countries including the US, UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Belgium, India, Bangladesh, Greece, Netherlands, France, Poland, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, Cambodia, Bulgaria and Japan, among others.

Massive preparations have been undertaken to ensure the success of the 35th ATF and the Travel Exchange (TRAVEX) 2016, whose events are slated mostly at the SMX Convention Center Mall of Asia and the nearby Sofitel Philippine Plaza from Jan. 18 to 25, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

“The DOT has mobilized practically all sectors of the tourism industry and tapped the services and support of many government agencies to put everything together for these massive international events,” said Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., also referring to the new high-end hotels in the metropolis that were booked for the accommodations of the thousands of guests.

“Many of them are sellers of tourism products and services from ASEAN and buyers from all over the world, who will gather under one roof to constitute a global market that will be placed in the limelight by the international media, getting Southeast Asia widely renowned as a single but complete tourism package of diverse attractions and distinct attributes, all making it a totally different world and a class of its own,” Jimenez pointed out.

He projected the number of foreign buyers and ASEAN sellers and exhibitors to fill up the entire SMX for the conduct of the one-on-one business deals at TRAVEX, which has been contributing billions of dollars annually to the Philippines’ tourism receipts, including the $5.5 billion generated last year.

At least 75 percent of the buyers are decision makers, according to DOT marketing arm Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), which has been coordinating the worldwide promotion of the event through the DOT’s overseas offices.

Forecasting TRAVEX 2016 to yield an unprecedented sales volume for the ASEAN sellers, TPB chief operating officer Ramon Enerio III said: “This year’s event will also have the biggest Philippine industry participation in the history of ATF, with practically all segments represented strongly in the ASEAN sectoral meetings, which include those of the airlines, travel associations and hotels and restaurants.”

Topping those conferences, according to Enerio, is the 19th meeting of the ASEAN Tourism ministers on Jan. 21.

“Moreover, Secretary Jimenez will lead the ministers in a series of meetings with the ASEAN-member NTOs (national tourism organizations) starting Jan. 19 to finalize the ATSP (ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan) 2016-2025 for launch on Jan. 22 as the policy framework for the region’s tourism integration involving all sectors of the industry,” said Philippine host committee chairman and DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr.

“The previous 5-year ATSP has already attained its goal of increasing intra-ASEAN travel. So, the next goal is to increase inbound travel from other regions and the rest of the world through integrated product and market development efforts, which will establish a unified brand image for ASEAN as a single destination with a complete menu of value propositions never experienced before by the global tourism market,” Bengzon explained.

“Thus, we will capitalize on ASEAN’s uniqueness and even turn its archipelagic challenges into marketable advantages through strategic and tactical packaging options, which can involve land, sea and air travel as an inclusive offering or sales come-on.  This seamless transport and transcom connectivity is what ASEAN needs to accomplish for the ATSP to achieve its goal as a single regional destination,” Bengzon stressed.












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