2016 ASEAN Tourism Fo­rum

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ASEAN News High­lights: • • • • • •

The Philip­pines laid out it's plan for a new in­ter­na­tional air­port in Bo­hol (home to the unique ‘chocolate hills'). The Panglao Air­port is sched­uled to open late 2017.

Ma­jor ren­o­va­tions are on­go­ing at Sin­ga­pore's Changi Air­port, with a new air­port ter­mi­nal, nick-named Project Jewel, sched­uled to open in 2018. The ter­mi­nal will be five stories tall, show­case a spec­tac­u­lar in­door wa­ter­fall and in­crease the air­port's pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity to 24 mil­lion per year.

A high speed rail­way link be­tween Kuala Lumpur and Sin­ga­pore is on the cards with con­struc­tion ex­pected to be­gin 2017 and com­ple­tion sched­uled for 2020.

Thai­land is seek­ing to pro­mote ex­pe­ri­ences in the north and east of the coun­try, tak­ing guests beyond the al­ready pop­u­lar Bangkok and south­ern beaches.

The ‘free visit visa' launched by In­done­sia in 2015 saw in­ter­na­tional tourist ar­rivals in­crease by 19 per­cent.

The Cruise south-east Asia brand was launched by the ASEAN Tourism Min­is­ters on the last day of ATF. With tagline, ‘Feel the warmth', it em­pha­sises the warmth of south-east Asia's hos­pi­tal­ity and ref­er­ences the re­gion's year-round warm wa­ters, which make it ideal for cruis­ing. By

Tessa Buhrmann

The 2016 As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) Tourism Fo­rum (ATF) and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing TRAVEX travel trade show, held in Manila re­cently, once again high­lighted why this re­gion is such a pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion. With ex­pe­ri­ences that range from ex­trav­a­gant lux­ury, wild and ad­ven­tur­ous ex­pe­ri­ences to beaches and back­pack­ers as well as the ever pop­u­lar and grow­ing niche of busi­ness and in­cen­tive travel, it's no won­der the ASEAN coun­tries draw vis­i­tors from far and wide.

Philip­pines, the host of the 35th ATF, pulled out all the stops to make an im­pres­sion on its 2,620 del­e­gates com­pris­ing of min­is­te­rial and NTO del­e­gates, as well as TRAVEX sup­pli­ers from across ASEAN, in­ter­na­tional buy­ers and me­dia.

ATF TRAVEX fea­tured a large and di­verse col­lec­tion of ASEAN sup­pli­ers, con­nect­ing in the re­gion of 1,000 ex­hibitors with 457 buy­ers from around the world, along­side 175 in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal me­dia.

The 3-day event run­ning from 20-22 Jan­uary in­cor­po­rated close to 70 of­fi­cial ses­sions with the host coun­try set­ting the bar high on sev­eral fronts – from the par­tic­i­pa­tion of 175 lo­cal ex­hibitors from across the Philip­pines, to a gen­er­ous line-up of so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing Pre-Show City Tours, the Open­ing Cer­e­mony, Wel­come Re­cep­tion and Din­ner, and Farewell Party for all ATF del­e­gates, as well as other cock­tail and ex­clu­sive din­ner func­tions.

The Philip­pines cer­tainly lived up to their slo­gan ‘It's more fun in the Philip­pines' with its won­der­ful Filipino hos­pi­tal­ity, world­class in­fra­struc­ture, fa­cil­i­ties and ser­vices. A high­light for a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional buy­ers and me­dia was the op­por­tu­nity of book­ing one of the Philip­pine Host Com­mit­tee's ten post-ATF tours that ran from 23 to 26 Jan­uary. This marked ATF's most ex­ten­sive num­ber of post-show tours in re­cent years. With a di­verse range of itin­er­ar­ies in­clud­ing UN­ESCO sites and her­itage tours, to is­lands hop­ping and high­lands vis­its, prov­ing that there is a Philip­pine des­ti­na­tion to suit ev­ery taste.

The ATF is a co-op­er­a­tive ini­tia­tive be­tween the South-east Asian Na­tions to pro­mote the ASEAN re­gion as a sin­gle tourist des­ti­na­tion. Mem­ber na­tions are: Brunei Darus­salam, Cam­bo­dia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, Myan­mar, Philip­pines, Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land and Viet­nam. True to ATF's ob­jec­tives of pro­mot­ing the 10 ASEAN re­gions as a sin­gle des­ti­na­tion, the spot­light at this year's event was not only on the Philip­pines. Other ASEAN NTOs dis­played huge sup­port and in­volve­ment in en­hanc­ing the 2016 ATF TRAVEX pro­gramme. In ad­di­tion to their own show­case on the ex­hi­bi­tion floor, Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land and In­done­sia shared their own des­ti­na­tion's ap­peal and hos­pi­tal­ity, while ev­i­denc­ing ASEAN's strength of di­ver­si­fied ex­pe­ri­ences amidst a uni­fied com­mu­nity dur­ing hosted lunches, late night func­tions and cock­tail bashes.

The beauty of South­east Asia most cer­tainly lies in its warm and hos­pitable peo­ple, di­verse cul­ture, lan­guage and re­li­gion, its ar­chi­tec­ture, cui­sine and ge­og­ra­phy – a blend of an­cient and modern, where old cen­turies meet the 21st cen­tury. ASEAN cap­ti­vates ev­ery spec­trum of to­day's trav­eller – from ad­ven­ture seek­ers, back­pack­ers, busi­ness­men, fam­i­lies to pho­tog­ra­phy en­thu­si­asts, those seek­ing sun, sand and sea, lux­ury and well­ness as well as trekkers and wildlife en­thu­si­asts.

The mes­sage from ATF2016 is that whether for busi­ness or for plea­sure, South­east Asia wants to con­tinue main­tain­ing a high level of tourist sat­is­fac­tion, en­sur­ing a mean­ing­ful ex­pe­ri­ence to its tourists while rais­ing their aware­ness about sus­tain­abil­ity is­sues and pro­mot­ing sus­tain­able tourism prac­tices amongst them.

Visit www.atf2017.com About the author:

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Tessa Buhrmann is the ed­i­tor of Re­spon­si­ble Trav­eller magazine. She at­tended ATF2016 as a travel trade me­dia cor­re­spon­dent on be­half of Tourism Tat­tler, and has writ­ten sev­eral in­ter­est­ing in­sights on Manila and the Phillip­ines from a re­spon­si­ble trav­ellers per­spec­tive on her pop­u­lar blog at www.re­spon­si­ble­trav­eller.co.za

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