Come 2015 , the ASEAN member states Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam will enter into an exciting period of development in its regional integration efforts. The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) ,  the goal of regional economic integration shall be realized. AEC is envisioned that with the increasing liberalization, there will be no more barriers to the free flow of goods, services, investment capital and skilled labor. Tourism is expected to take off in the region more than ever before.

20130207115027

Photo source: http://en.aectourismthai.com/content1/940

To complement this, the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2011-2015 which is now on 80% of its implementation projects that : “By 2015, ASEAN will provide an increasing number of visitors to the region with authentic and diverse products, enhanced connectivity, a safe and secure environment, increased quality of services, while at the same time ensuring an increased quality of life and opportunities for residents through responsible and sustainable tourism development by working effectively with a wide range of stakeholders.”

Being emphasized as an important element of this regional community integration, there is now increased awareness of the power of tourism as a tool for development and change. with improved infrastructures, tourism can  help deal with many poverty and social issues as well as act as a strong supporter of heritage and natural conservation.  In the recent launch of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Summit in Korea , it was said that of the 70 million new jobs Travel & Tourism will stimulate globally by 2023, two thirds – some 47 million – will be in Asia.

 Philippine Travel Mart 2013

To cope with this demanding developments, our very own Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa)  held the 1st Philippine Tourism Forum where the blueprints and plans were discussed, during the Philippine Tourism Week – September 1 – 8, 2013 at the SMX, Mall of Asia. Following the event was the annual Philippine Travel Mart, which proved to be another bullish event. While there are more issues that need to be weighed , improved and reviewed in our systems relating to tourism operations, it is best to prepare for this Asia’s projected travel and tourism boom.

Good luck, Philippine tourism industry!