Philippines Inks Tourism Cooperation Pact With ASEAN Member States

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) on tourism cooperation has been signed between the Philippines and some of its co-members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to facilitate tourism flow in Southeast Asia.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) said the Philippines signed an MOU on tourism cooperation with Cambodia and another with Thailand during bilateral meetings which coincided with the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2016 (ATF 2016) last week.

DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. told reporters that the main cooperation between the Philippines and Cambodia is meant to continue cultural exchanges, particularly on restoration of religious monuments like temples and churches.

Jimenez explained that after the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in the Visayas Region which damaged a number of iconic churches in Bohol and Cebu, Cambodia has expressed its desire to help restore them.

“Because of the Angkot Wat, Cambodians have some of the world’s most experienced restorers of ancient structures so the whole protocol behind this monumental reconstruction is not new to them and they want to help,” Jimenez said.

“This cooperation agreement formalizes this so we can exchange workers so they can send their people here and look into it,” he added.

The DOT chief, meanwhile, pointed out that the Philippines will also be providing its experts’ knowledge on restoration of relics and documents learned from Spain.

On the other hand, the main cooperation between the Philippines and Thailand is meant to develop a stronger marine and cruise tourism industry.

Thailand Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told reporters that the idea is to turn Southeast Asia into one of the main cruise hubs.

“We have the opportunity because in our region, a ship can sail all year-long and because we are better than the Mediterranean in terms of the kind of climate since it’s very cold there,” she said.

“Over here, it’s milder so there are more months that people can enjoy a cruise trip,” she added, noting that Thailand has already started cruise trips between Thailand and Myanmar and Thailand and Cambodia.

She said that she looks forward to the region gradually opening more and more cruise trip destinations.

“A visit to Thailand is a jump-off point to the rest of Southeast Asia; a visit to Thailand is a potential visit to the Philippines, so even if you only get a fraction of what Thailand gets, you double your business,” Jimenez said.

Recent data from the DOT showed that there has been an average 50 percent growth in the number of cruise passengers to the Philippines from 2011 to 2015.

The Philippines received 35,236 passengers in 2015, which compared with 9,770 passengers in 2011.

DOT: Philippines marks 5.36-M tourist arrivals in 2015

A total of 5.36 million foreign tourists visited the Philippines in 2015, the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced Wednesday.

DOT Assistant Secretary Arturo Boncato Jr. in a press briefing said that this number is 10.91 percent higher than the 4.83-million arrivals in 2014.

“The tourism industry marked a milestone as our foreign arrivals surpassed the five-million mark with 5.36-million visitors. This is 10.91 percent higher than the 4.83 markets sin 2014,” Boncato said.

Boncato further said that top source markets came from Northeast Asia namely South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Korea remained the top market with a 24.99 percent share to the total inbound market or approximately 1.3-million visitors.

He said that this growth was driven by the Philippines improved activation in the market as well as connectivity and access.

“Our focus is really continuing what we started,” Boncato said, referring to the country’s soon to be released National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2016 to 2022.

The NTDP is meant to plan, develop, regulate and promote the tourism industry as a major socio-economic activity and spread the benefits of tourism to more people.

Simply put, the plan is meant to position the Philippines as a must experience and fun destination.

”We are looking at all possible directions moving forward,” he added. (PNA) BNB/Azer N. Parrocha

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