On 28 June, Mr. Reynaldo L. Ching, Assistant Secretary of Department of Tourism of the Philippines (DOT), met with H.E. Mme. Yang Xiuping, Secretary-General of ASEAN-China Centre (ACC), and the Chinese Media Delegation participating in the third Chinese Media Reporting Trip to ASEAN organized by ACC. Both sides exchanged views on expanding the Philippines-China and ASEAN-China tourism cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. Ms. Rica C. Bueno, Director of Office of Tourism Standards and Regulations of DOT, Mr. Niel P. Ballesteros, Tourism Attaché of the Philippines in Shanghai, and Mr. Vithit Powattanasuk, Director of Information and Public Relations Division of ACC, attended the meeting.
Secretary-General Yang stated that 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, the ASEAN-China Year of Tourism Cooperation, and the Philippine rotating chairmanship in ASEAN. In March 2017, the opening ceremony of the ASEAN-China Year of Tourism Cooperation was commenced in Manila. Tourism cooperation is a bright spot of ASEAN-China and the Philippines-China cooperation. China has become the largest tourist source of ASEAN and the third largest tourist source of the Philippines. ACC attaches great importance to tourism cooperation, actively connects the tourism institutions of both sides and has organized several tourism seminars and tourism cooperation forums in ASEAN countries including the Philippines. In 2017, ACC has organized ASEAN-China Quality and Sustainable Tourism Development Conference & ASEAN Photo Exhibition, started shooting documentaries on 10 ASEAN countries’ tourism resources and translated the 50 Golden Trails of ASEAN. ACC would also cooperate with ASEAN countries to hold eco-tourism forums. She hoped that this reporting trip in the Philippines would make positive contributions to promoting tourism resources of the Philippines and enhancing ASEAN-China people-to people exchanges and mutual understanding.
Assistant Secretary Reynaldo highly commended the efficient efforts ACC made for facilitating the Philippines-China and ASEAN-China tourism cooperation. He expressed that both the Philippines and China have abundant tourism resources, and are important tourism destinations for each other. In 2016, the number of Chinese tourists to the Philippines exceeded 670,000 and the increase of the number of the first quarter of 2017 exceeded 30%. With more direct flights between both sides, improvement in tourism infrastructures, and simplification of visa procedures, the bilateral tourism cooperation would have broader development space. The Philippine government is working to develop new tourism resources, and offers higher quality tourism services and experiences for tourists from China and other countries. China is the most promising tourism market. Therefore, the Philippines would continue to participate in tourism expos and fairs held in China. As the rotating chair of ASEAN and a member of East ASEAN Growth Area, the Philippines would strengthen the coordination with other ASEAN Member States to promote ASEAN tourism resources in the China markets.
Chinese journalists actively raised questions about Philippine middle- and long-term tourism development plans, the specific strategies and programmes on exploring the Chinese markets, and how to protect the environment and develop tourism resources simultaneously, the prospects of local tourism cooperation between the Philippines and Guangxi, and the Philippines and Hainan. The atmosphere was warm.