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APEC tourism officials meet in Boracay

From the Department of Tourism

TWG Family photoThe Philippines hosted the two-day 46th APEC Tourism Working Group (APEC-TWG) Meeting held on 17-18 May 2015 at the Paradise Garden Resort in Boracay Island, Aklan. The meeting was attended by tourism officials of the member economies (Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam) and guest observers from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), International Air Transport Association (IATA), Incentive, Conference & Event Society Asia Pacific (ICESAP), Macau, APEC International Centre for Sustainable Tourism (AICST), and KPMG, a tax and financial firm.

The regular meetings of the APEC-TWG serve as venue to report updates of activities/projects to deliberate on issues and reach decisions related to policy formulation and project proposals contained in the annual work program and strategic plan. These included the mainstreaming of micro, small, to medium enterprises (MSME) in the tourism industry to which the Philippines presented its One Step Project while Indonesia shared its tourism village initiative.

The APEC Policy Study Unit presented its concept note for a research on tourism and inclusive growth highlighting the need for empirical and uniform data among economies to facilitate comparison and policy formulation. The revised Strategic Plan 2015-2019 and annual work plan were presented by TWG Lead Shepherd Javier Molina, noting that champion economies need to be determined or nominated to lead activities and step up projects in the medium term. Meanwhile, the US briefed the group on the Travel Facilitation Initiative (TFI) while the Philippines, on behalf of Indonesia, presented the project on mainstreaming of ocean issues.

The Lead Shepherd presented the project to prepare a report on the state of APEC tourism as a concrete deliverable in 2015/2016 which the group agreed to. Peru’s deputy prime minister for tourism excited the group with its announcement of the plan to hold the 9th Tourism Ministerial Meeting and the 48th TWG in 2016.

Day One of the TWG meeting ended with a sunset cruise on board a yacht and which docked at the beach of Discovery Shores where the dinner was held.

Day Two started with the Philippines holding a briefing on the implementation of the project: “An Assessment of the Role of Taxation in Promoting Travel and Tourism Growth in the APEC region” followed by the explanation from KPMG. The second project “Developing Air Connectivity in the APEC Region” was introduced by Thailand and supported by IATA, its consultant.

Russia reported on the third project “Developing Smart Traveller Programmes to Facilitate International Travel in the APEC Region. The US ensued with its report on “Developing Traveler-Friendly Airport to Improve the Passenger Experience in the APEC Region.” A Concept Note was also presented by Australia on “Developing the tourism workforce. of the future through labor and skills development, certification, and mobility in the APEC Region.”

In the afternoon, the participants presented the current state of their respective travel and tourism industries. Also reported were updates including issues and trends with impact on tourism. The group applauded Thailand on its offer to host the 47th TWG in Changmai, Thailand in August this year.

The meeting ended with the group agreeing on the revised Strategic Plan which enumerated projects and activities to be championed and co-sponsored by member economies.  The plan will be presented to the Sub-Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (SCE).

“We have adopted a new strategic plan for 2015-2019.  This ambitious plan that follows the Ministers’ and Leaders’ directions in 2014, promotes sustainable and inclusive tourism development in the APEC region that will enable member economies to increase their competitiveness while consolidating regional objectives.  It has four priority areas which will be developed through specific projects and activities, like taxation policy, travel facilitation, MSMEs, connectivity, smart and secure travel programs, traveler friendly airports, among others,” Molina said.

Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) Assistant Secretary Rolando Canizal closed the meeting and thanked the participants, but also reminded them that much has yet to be done in following through various initiatives in respective economies in order to eventually remove these impediments to travel and for all to gain improvements in the tourism supply chain.   

Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. on a separate interview said, “The Philippines is honored and proud to host the 47th APEC TWG Meeting. We are happy that the TWG has been very active and committed in stepping up the initiatives to achieve the goals in its annual strategic plans. We see a lot of these milestone projects contributing positively to the APEC 2015 theme of inclusive growth.”

“We hope that the delegates, beyond the conference walls of this meeting, were able to experience our country in different ways—from our diverse natural wonders to our rich cultural heritage and the warmth of our people. We hope that through Boracay and our Filipino performances during these meetings, the world will see and remember the Philippines as a young, vibrant, and innovative nation,” Secretary Jimenez added.

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