The Department of Tourism said the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF), which will be hosted by the Philippines this year, will be shorter compared to the one held last year in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.
“The program for [this year]is a bit shorter than usual. Normally, it would stretch six seven days, now we would stick to five,” Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. told reporters in an interview.
Last year, the ATF in Myanmar was held from Jan. 22 to 29. The ATF in the Philippines this year will be held from Jan. 18 to 22.
Bengzon said that the program was shortened since the department noticed that there were some activities that both tourism ministers and heads of national tourism organizations (NTOs) would not be able to attend at the same time.
He, however, assured that most of the events in the program would happen simultaneously with other events and that nothing important would be left out.
The annual ATF is a cooperative regional effort to promote the region as a single tourist destination and create and increase awareness of Asean as a competitive tourist destination in the Asia Pacific.
Bengzon said the hosting of ATF is rotated among member countries each year. ATF 2016 marks the 35th anniversary of the event since its inauguration in 1981.
The last time Philippines hosted the event was in 2006. Bengzon described the hosting of ATF this year as “very timely” because it provides a fitting kickoff for the country’s 2016 campaign.
Tourism ministers of the 10 Asean-member states are expected to attend the event as well as heads of international organizations, representatives from dialogue partners and heads of national tourism organizations.
The ATF will involve 200 government meetings, 450 travel exchange (TRAVEX) buyers from 60 countries, 1,500 sellers, 110 international and 50 local media.
Meetings of NTOs will begin on Jan. 18 until 20, meetings of ASEAN tourism leaders happening simultaneously with the TRAVEX will be from Jan. 21 to 22, and post tours for delegates will start from Jan. 23 until 25.
While meetings will be held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay, the TRAVEX will be held at the SMX Convention Center.
Among the highlights of the ATF will be the presentation of the AseanTourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2016 to 2025, which, will work towards the development and growth of the region’s tourism.
”Essentially it is a tourism master plan for the whole of Asean covering the period 2016 to 2025,” Bengzon said. “The target is to have it approved by the end of ATF.”
“The collective commitment is to make sure it (ATSP) is presented to the ministers in ATF 2016 for approval,” he added.
Bengzon, meanwhile, assured that the ATF will not involve flight cancellations as it did with last year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Under the National Organizing Committee (NOC), DOT has a subcommittee that looks at security and traffic management.
“We will make sure that the movement of our delegates is as smooth as possible and we will also make sure that the general public is not inconvenienced,” Bengzon said.
Bengzon also sought for patience from the public in case slight inconveniences may occur.
“Our hosting of ATF comes once every 10 years so we appeal to our ‘kababayans’ to stretch their patience,” he added.