On 16 March 2017, the Opening Ceremony of ASEAN-China Year of Tourism Cooperation was officially launched in Manila, the Philippines. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte had conveyed congratulatory messages.
Premier Li Keqiang mentioned in the congratulatory note that China and ASEAN countries, either linked by mountains and rivers or only separated by the sea, have a long history of friendly cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. China has set ASEAN as a priority of its foreign policy, supports ASEAN's central status in regional cooperation, and is willing to build a closer China-ASEAN relationship by sharing development opportunities in the region and abiding by the principles of mutual respect, understanding, trust and support, and to work together for a closer China-ASEAN community with common destiny, promoting peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world as well. Tourism plays a key role in China-ASEAN people-to-people ties, contributing to a deeper mutual understanding and practical cooperation in various industries. So far China has become the biggest source of foreign tourists for ASEAN. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the ASEAN and is also the year in which both sides will focus on boosting two-way tourism. China will take this opportunity to upgrade relations between both sides to a new height.
President Duterte said in the congratulatory note that the bond between ASEAN and China, which just last year reached its 25th year, is a welcome and timely one. Tourism in the Philippines as well as in the other ASEAN Member States have been a top priority. Focusing on sustainable and inclusive growth, ASEAN countries endeavour to implement policies and programmes that would benefit more people in the region. With tourism, they anticipate growth in trade export, agriculture, transportation, logistics and business process outsourcing. He expressed his warm and heartfelt congratulations to ASEAN and China for the successful step in tourism cooperation and hoped this endeavour could lead to greater milestones in the near future and towards a peaceful, safe, and progressive region.
Vice Premier of China Wang Yang and Secretary of the Department of Tourism of the Philippines Wanda Corazon Teo read the congratulatory notes of both leaders respectively. Chairman of China National Tourism Administration Li Jinzao, Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon, representatives of ASEAN tourism authorities, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN Lim Hong Hin, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, representatives of Chinese Mission to ASEAN as well as representatives from tourism circle attended the opening ceremony.
Yang Xiuping, Secretary-General of ASEAN-China Centre (ACC), attended the opening ceremony upon invitation and engaged with other participants. ACC, in accordance with the ASEAN-China Year of Tourism Cooperation, will carry out a series of activities, including conducting documentary shooting on tourism destinations in all ASEAN countries, holding ASEAN-China Eco-Tourism Development Seminar, ASEAN-China Tourism Festival and Tourism Capacity Building Workshops, with a view to further promoting people-to-people exchanges and friendship between people of both ASEAN countries and China.