PICC, Manila
20 January 2016

“We belong to a region that holds vast potential in terms of tourism…The strong interest of our peoples have in visiting each other’s countries highlights the potential to accelerate the growth of intra-ASEAN tourism,” President Benigno S. Aquino III said when he graced the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Tourism Forum (ATF) 2016 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City.

In his remarks, the President reported that tourist arrivals in ASEAN reached 105.1 million or a 42.4 percent increase from the 73.8 million tourist arrivals in 2010. Of these 105.1 million visitors, 49.22 million came from within the ASEAN region.

“Not only does it contribute to our respective growth agendas, it also fosters greater understanding, and strengthens the ties that bind our people,” President Aquino said.

He emphasized that the ASEAN integration made the 10-member nations a more attractive destination for visitors around the world. He also added that towards maximizing the potential of tourism within the region, connectivity could be enhanced even further.

“An ASEAN Roll-on/Roll-off System has been in the works for some time, towards enhancing maritime connectivity,” the President said.

Inaugurated in Malaysia in 1981, the ATF is a cooperative effort created to promote the ASEAN region as one tourist destination. Each year, the hosting of the forum is rotated among the 10-member nations composed of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.

With the theme “One Community for Sustainability”, 2016 marks the 35th anniversary of the ATF. One of the highlights of this year’s event is the launching of the new ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2016-2025, which is geared towards the development and growth of tourism in the region, as well as ensuring that growth is grounded on inclusive and sustainable tourism.

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