Monday, February 3, 2014

ASEAN Strides Towards Economic Integration

Wazzup Pilipinas!

At the recently concluded ASEAN Tourism Forum held in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia from 16 - 24 January 2014, the ASEAN ministers pledged to step up measures to realize the planned regional economic integration by 2015. The various committees reported on the progress of the programs and projects contained in the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP). The reports point to a 75% completion of the interventions, which include improving connectivity via the open skies policy; increasing competitiveness of the tourism workforce through the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA); simplifying visa procedures through the ASEAN common visa; improving readiness for crisis and climate change; establishing quality tourism through the standards on hotel, homestay, public toilet, spa service, tourism safety and security; and developing sustainable tourist destinations and products.

The ASEAN members agreed to adopt the Declaration on Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. Meetings were likewise held with dialogue partners such as China, Japan, and Korea to improve cooperation and travel with and among these countries. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and ASEAN Travel Agents (ASEANTA) were also present to support the ATF and the ASEAN initiatives.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. reported on the progress made by the Philippine government on the common visa citing the readiness of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to honor the visas extended by all member countries to those traveling to the country. Moreoever, Secretary Jimenez expressed the country’s heartfelt gratitude for the assistance extended by the ASEAN, WTO, PATA, WTTC, and other dialogue partners to the Philippines, particularly for the areas devastated by the earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan in October and November 2013. Chairing the ASEAN Committee on Climate Change, DOT Undersecretary Daniel G. Corpuz also presented the Guidebook on Climate Change, as a result of the workshop held in Legazpi, Albay last year.

Tourism Secretary Jimenez likewise officially announced 2015 as Visit Philippines Year and confirmed the Philippine hosting of the ATF in 2016. “The Philippines, under the leadership of His Excellency President Benigno III, has focused on tourism as one of the pillars of growth and inclusiveness. In this connection, and to coincide with the holding of the APEC Ministerial Meetings and Leaders' Summit in 2015, the Philippines has declared 2015 as Visit Philippines Year. Visit Philippines Year (VPY 2015) will feature a calendar of events and activities that are an exciting mix of all the outstanding work of the Filipino people, as well as the unveiling of many more historic treasures, natural wonders, and unforgettable adventures. VPY 2015 is an invitation to all, especially our brothers and sisters in ASEAN, to come and partake of the enduring promise of more fun in the Philippines,” Secretary Jimenez said.

On the sidelines, the Secretary had meetings with Cambodia and Vietnam to further flesh out cooperation initiatives. A meeting was likewise held with the Asia Cruise Association (ACA) to explore wider opportunities in cruise tourism development.

The ATF 2014 meted the Green Hotel Awards, given every two years, to 86 hotels, five of which come from the Philippines, namely, two-time awardee Daluyon Resort and Mountain Resort of Palawan; the Pangalusian Island Resort also of Palawan; the Manor at Camp John Hay and Baguio Country Club in Baguio City; and Amarela Resort in Bohol. The award is given to hotels which comply with the set standards that demand green and sustainable practices, environmentally friendly, and energy conservation measures. Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr was joined by Assistant Secretary Art Boncato and Director Rica Bueno on stage to congratulate the awardees.

“It is a pleasure to see that more entities have been included in this year’s Green Hotel Awards. It is a clear indication that a lot of our properties are becoming more conscious of responsible, ethical, and sustainable tourism, which further heightens our positioning as a must-experience destination,” Secretary Jimenez noted.

The three-day TRAVEX (Travel Exchange) which followed the meetings gathered a total of 450 booths set up by 353 exhibitors, composed of 879 sellers, and participated in by 462 international buyers. The 251 square meter Philippine pavilion was strategically situated at the center of the exhibition area, which accommodated 23 entities representing various accommodation and transportation establishments, tours and travel agencies, five DOT regional offices belonging to the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines East Asia Growth Area), and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB). About 70 international media representatives also attended the Philippine Media briefing where Undersecretary Daniel G. Corpuz and Assistant Secretary Rolando Canizal presented the country’s 2013 tourism performance, targets, and recovery-rehabilitation program.

The TPB led the preparations for the Philippine Night, drawing in more than 400 guests from the ASEAN National Tourism Organizations (NTOs), TRAVEX participants and media. Providing entertainment were multi-talented vocalist Nicole Asensio, the award-winning Philippine All-Stars Dance Crew, and Bacolod-based percussionists Grupo Tribale.

“As a whole, our participation in this year’s ATF has confirmed our steadfast commitment to advancing Philippine tourism amidst the difficulties and challenges of the previous year. It has shown the world that we are all keen to receive advice and assistance, as well as bring to the table the lessons we have learned on climate change, crisis management, and disaster preparedness. We are now where we want the whole world to be. As such, together we must strive to learn from these experiences and be a showcase of sustainable development in this side of the world,” the tourism chief concluded.

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1 comment:

  1. One Vision, One Identity, One Community indeed! I really hoped that everybody will feel the benefits of the ASEAN Economic Community.


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