This year's ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) held in Manila from January 18 to 25, 2016 with this year's theme "One Community for Sustainability", a cooperative effort aimed at promoting the region as a single tourist destination.
The annual event involves all the tourism industry sectors of the 10 member nations of ASEAN: Brunei, Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to discuss innovations, trends, and developments in the tourism industry and facilitate joint policy formulations to accelerate the growth of the region's tourism.
Here are the Philippines development plans to increase tourist arrivals, highlighted during the ASEAN Tourism Forum.
The Philippines has clocked 5.36 million tourists in 2015, an increase of 11.67% from the previous year’s 4.8 million. With next year’s target set at 6 million foreign arrivals.
The country posted $5 billion in tourism receipts in 2015 compared to $4.84 billion the previous year.
The Philippines’ top source market is Northeast Asia (Korea, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau) which accounted for 49.8% of total arrivals.
Korea remains the top market with 24.99% in total inbound traffic.
China, in particular, registered strong growth of 59% month-on-month in July after the Chinese government did away with its travel ban on the Philippines. Tour groups have started to pour in with 14 direct flights to destinations such as Boracay and Cebu from all over China.
Employment in tourism characteristic industries was estimated 4.99* million slightly higher by 3.96 percent in 2015 compared to 4.76 million in 2014.
For the ASEAN market, the Philippines gained a remarkable compound annual growth rate of 9.56% (481, 567) in 2015 in seven-year time from 7.84% registered in 2008 (254,077). Singapore and Malaysia find their way up in the top 12 markets yielding 181,176 and 155,814 visitors in 2015.
The Philippines is currently ranked 74th (from 82nd in 2013) out of 114 economies in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index.
The country has 52 ports carrying 69,802 passengers in 2015, compared to the previous year's 44 port calls 60,182 passengers.
There are an estimated 8,841 enterprises with 202,797 rooms that can accommodate guests across the nation.
Efforts last year were focused on opening destinations via the construction or upgrade of airports, including the Puerto Princesa International Airport which is set to be completed by 2018, with the aim of increasing the airport’s carrying capacity from 350,000 to 2 million.
Pursued air services negotiations resulting in opening of 75 international flights with 579,192 air seats. Implemented aggressive campaign on cruise tourism generating 30% increase in port calls by international cruise lines.
The tourism board also intends to drum up interest among specific groups of travelers with its array of events next year. Such events include the ASEAN Tourism Forum and Route Asia. For foodies Madrid Fusion Manila, for adventure seekers Dive Resort Fair and Iron Man and an array of international music festivals.
New investments in Bohol include Amorita Resort (US 2.25 Million) and South Palms (US 3.38 Million) in 2014, Henann Resort (US 21.98 Million) and Be Hotel (US 15.38 Million) in 2015.
Bohol's Panglao International airport is set to complete in 2017 with a target capacity of 1.7 million.
Construction upgrades of airports including the Puerto Princesa International Airport which is to be completed in 2018, with the carrying capacity from 350,000 to 2 million.
Other airports in various stages of improvement are the Bacolod-Silay airport, Iloilo airport, and Davao airport, among others.
Supporting the DoT’s tourism goals, the government will address a route development programme to encourage more flights into the country and lower the barrier of entry for foreign visitors.
In particular, he mentioned "coopetition" as the term that characterizes the region. He described the term as a "cooperative, collaborative decision by all players to compete with each other so that the world will choose the region before choosing the country." according to Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr
President Benigno S. Aquino III suggested that the ASEAN should band together and present tour packages covering all its member-countries to strengthen relations and foster economic growth.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2016 in Manila, Aquino said that the regional bloc should maximize its tourism potential to further attract the international market.
“Would it not be a more attractive value pack proposition to present tours that cover more, if not all ASEAN countries, in one sweep?” The president said in his speech. “After all, tourists who travel more than a day in order to experience Southeast Asia will likely not limit themselves to the Philippines alone. Visits to Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and perhaps each and every member state would probably factor into their itinerary.”
Aquino commented that “so much has taken place in Philippine tourism that I find myself extremely eager to catch up and experience on a more personal level what millions have already realized – that it’s more fun in the Philippines.
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Disclosure: Our coverage was courtesy of the ASEAN Tourism Forum . Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.