MANILA - The Philippines has expressed its "full support" behind the efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to improve accessibility among its member states.
Department of Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco, who represented the Philippines at the 26th ASEAN Tourism Ministers meeting in Indonesia on Saturday, agreed on the need to open up more gateways in the region.
"In the Philippines, we have entered into a convergence agreement with the Department of Transportation, recognizing that transportation forms an essential part of every tourism program in being the first and last impression of tourists into and around our countries," she said in her remarks.
"We fully support the opening of gateway access not only to international airports but also secondary airports that would take our tourists directly to our key destinations," she added.
Frasco said the Philippines would continue intensifying efforts to improve its gateways in terms of systems management, efficiency and as well as interior enhancements to present the "Filipino brand".
There are currently 90 international and domestic airports across the Philippines.
Frasco likewise highlighted Manila's recognition of Japan, China and South Korea as important tourism source markets at an ASEAN Ministerial Meeting.
"We would like to thank Japan, in particular, for your focus on developing tourism that is based on culture, and gastronomy. Thank you for your initiatives in the Philippines to improve accessibility especially in terms of transportation, flood and disaster mitigation," she said.
Frasco then thanked China for identifying the Philippines as one of its pilot areas for group tourism after it reopened its borders for outbound travel.
"We recognize the great contribution of China to outbound tourism and that more than 169 million Chinese nationals travel out of China to various destinations all over the world. Therefore, we view with great optimism the reopening of China to international travel," she said.
"The Philippines welcomed a planeload of Chinese tourists from Xiamen, marking an auspicious start to the New Year and look forward to more arrivals in time to come especially as both our countries have signed an implementation program to cover various areas and to further the millennium of relationship between our countries," she added.
She expressed her gratitude to South Korea for its longstanding partnership with the Philippines. especially through the Korea Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Tourism that seeks to develop one destination in Luzon.
"We greatly appreciate your continued support for the Philippines, recognizing Korea as our traditional number one source of market for tourists," she said.
"We continue to express our willingness to cooperate and collaborate with your green nations in order to ensure that we join together in the recovery of our tourism industries in the years to come," she added. (PNA)