The Philippines is set to host the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Tourism Forum (ATF) from January 18 to January 22. It is a cooperative effort aimed at promoting the region as a single tourist destination.
The annual gathering brings together member nations of the ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Each year, the hosting of ATF is rotated among the ASEAN-member countries. This year, ATF marks its 35th anniversary since its inauguration in Malaysia in 1981.
It is the fourth time that the Philippines will host the ATF. It has previously hosted the ATF in 1987 in Manila, 1998 in Cebu and 2006 in Davao.
This year's theme is "One Community for Sustainability."
The 2016 forum will launch the new ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2016 - 2020. Jimenez explained that the new plan would work towards "the development and growth of the region's tourism" as well as "ensuring that this growth is grounded on responsible, sustainable, and inclusive tourism."
One of the highlights of this event is the Travel Exchange (TRAVEX), a series of daylong, one-on-one, business-to-business meetings between foreign buyers and ASEAN sellers of tourism products and services.