The Department of Tourism (DOT) is hardly taking any holiday respite in preparing Manila for the forthcoming ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2016 slated at the SMX Convention Center on January 18 to 25 early next year.
DOT marketing arm Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) is briskly working on the secretariat and logistical requirements of this 35thanniversary of ATF from point to point, or from the airport and back, and everything in between.
“The ATF 2016 will bring in thousands of visitors from all over the world, including hundreds of buyers of tourism goods and services, exhibitors from the ten countries of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), top tourism officials and other dignitaries,” said TPB Chief Operating Officer Domingo Ramon C. Enerio III.
“So, we are pulling out all the stops to make sure that this huge and prestigious international event (ATF 2016) will run smoothly and put ASEAN tourism in its best light,” Enerio stressed.
The ATF 2016 carries the theme “One Community for Sustainability” to highlight ASEAN’s pursuit of becoming a single regional destination with its own unique and integrated identity in the eyes of the world.
The theme will thus showcase unity amid diversity that essentially characterizes the varied cultures and natural attributes of the region, which Enerio describes as nothing short of “fascinating and mind blowing” to explain the consistent rise of ASEAN’s aggregate tourism volume from 73.8 million in 2010 to 81.2 million in 2011, 89.2 million in 2012, 102.2 million in 2013, and 105.1 million in 2014.
“What underscores the success in ASEAN’s efforts in promoting regional tourism unity is the rising trend in intra-ASEAN tourism volume, which has been increasing since 2010 at 35.04 million to 2011’s 37.733 million, 2012’s 39.8 million, 2013’s 46.15 million, and 2014’s 49.2 million,” Enerio pointed out.
He said this regional tourism integration would benefit every ASEAN-member country, including the Philippines, in terms of, not only intra-ASEAN travel, but also arrivals from outside the region.
“While the Philippines is strategically located at the center of ASEAN, our archipelago is ironically out of the loop physically because of its lack of any land linkages to the rest of the region. We can be reached by only air or sea travel, which is either more expensive or time consuming, unlike the other ASEAN countries linked by land offering opportunities for a regional rail loop,” Enerio explained.
“But with an ASEAN tourism integration policy teeming with incentives for regional travel, the Philippines can form part of various packages with various travel options, and that holds true for other members of ASEAN, all benefiting from the increased inbound volume,” Enerio further explained.
He said the Philippines’ hosting of ATF 2016 alone would also be a big opportunity to showcase Manila’s new entertainment district featuring the SMX and an array of the world’s top hotel brands such as the City of Dreams and the Solaire Resorts and Casino in the Entertainment City along the coast of Manila Bay, the Fairmont Hotel in the Makati CBD, and many other posh hotels in the Bonifacio Global City and Ortigas Center, to name a few.
“Those newly-built hotels highlight the continuing expansion of the country’s capacity for high-end accommodation facilities and other tourism infrastructure,” Enerio said, also referring to the iconic The Manila Eye, a gigantic Ferris wheel observatory forming part of the new landscape and providing a majestic view of Metro Manila’s skyline.
Enerio is urging Philippine industry players to join the exhibits and become part of this historic ATF, which will give them international exposure and many other marketing opportunities.
“Hundreds of international media practitioners from various countries worldwide have been invited to cover the event,” Enerio said.
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