Philippines leads neighbors in formulating ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan

As the existing roadmap for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) tourism sector expires this year, ASEAN tourism leaders convene anew to formulate new tourism strategies and programs for the next few years.

The Philippines, responsible for the coordination of the overall ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP), is at the forefront of the development of this medium-term tourism plan, targeted for completion by end November of this year.

An interim draft of the plan has been presented for discussion at the recently held ASEAN Tourism Forum attended by the Philippines early this year at BRIDEX (Brunei International Defence Exhibition Center) in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.

According to Tourism Secretary Joseph ‘Ace’ Durano, “We are glad to play a key role in the development of the blueprint for the region’s tourism development and promotion. It is a vote of confidence on our capability to be at the forefront of ASEAN tourism growth and integration.”

Funded by the USAID, ATSP 2011-2015 will succeed the ASEAN Roadmap for the Integration of the Tourism Sector which expires in 2010. The goal is to help the region achieve an integrated ASEAN Community by 2015.

Thammasat University in Thailand is the consultant chosen to develop the plan. Under the supervision of the ASEAN National Tourism Organizations, the university’s scope of work will include a review of ASEAN declarations relating to tourism, consultation with public and private sector stakeholders, an assessment of projects initiated under the existing road map, the identification of priority activities, and the formulation of a vision and set of strategies that, when implemented, would lead to the successful regional integration of ASEAN tourism by 2015.

Durano said, “One challenge that we now face in coming up with the ATSP in the next five years is identifying which practices and strategies may no longer be sufficient in responding to the global challenges.”

On his part, Tourism Planning and Promotions Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque Jr. said, “The Philippines will aim not only to promote our tourism destinations, but also to call for responsible travel – both from industry players and tourists alike.”

In another development, the Philippines was recently appointed chair of Marketing Task Force for ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) for the US and European market, according to Alan Cañizal, Director for Tourism Development and Planning.

“ASEANTA has signed an agreement to work together on a new branding and marketing campaign that would encourage travelers to visit multiple Southeast Asian destinations, stay longer, and spend more money in the region,” he said.

In line with the goals of ASEANTA, the DOT is supporting the bid for a common visa for Southeast Asian countries, as this would allow for easier access, thereby boosting more tourist traffic in the region.

“If the common visa is approved, it will certainly boost tourism and investment ties between the member states. Certainly, mutual benefits for all the countries will follow,” added Cañizal. (PNA)

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