Tourism department targets more Asean arrivals

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THE Department of Tourism (DOT) aims to boost tourist arrivals by enticing member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to visit the Philippines.

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DOT Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo made her pitch over the weekend at the 20th Asean Tourism Ministers meeting of the Asean Tourism Forum in Singapore from January 19 to 21, 2017.

During the meeting, Teo presented the DOT’s major projects and invited her fellow ministers to important tourism-related events that are slated in the Philippines this year, among them, staging of the 65th Miss Universe pageant in Manila on January 30, the 3rd Madrid Fusion Manila from April 6 to 8, 2017, and the 6th UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics.

Teo requested the Asean ministers for assistance in promoting the events to business and outbound travelers from their countries.

“Pursuant to the Asean Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP), we would like to emphasize the importance of Asean working assiduously to ensure that a sustainable and inclusive growth path for tourism will be achieved. We must develop programs and policies to improve the competitiveness of Asean as a tourist destination, and to promote Asean as a single destination,” Teo said.

The Asean member countries are: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines

Latest data on visitor arrivals show that for November 2016, visitors from these nine countries combined, account for only 7.9 percent of the total tourist arrivals in the Philippines.

Based on the same data, among the Asean countries, the most number of arrivals to the Philippines came from Singapore with 161,194 visitors; followed by Malaysia, 128,077; Thailand, 44,372; Indonesia, 40,651; Vietnam, 31,555; Brunei, 7,378; Myanmar, 6,832; Cambodia, 3,278; and Laos, 1,112.

“We don’t have to look far to find what we are looking for. In 2016, 115 million projected international arrivals can be attributed to the Asean countries,” the Tourism chief said.

“Let us not forget that our neighbors, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, are considered affluent nations and major outbound travel sources,” Teo added.

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