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The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) was the proud host of the recently-concluded ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan, and Korea) Tourism Youth Summit 2015 with the theme: “Building the Future through Culture, Identity, and Community” held on 28 September to 03 October 2015 at the South Palms Resort in Panglao, Bohol and at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City.
The program is one of the components of the ASEAN Plus Three Tourism Cooperation Work Plan 2013 – 2017 adopted during the 12th Meeting of ASEAN, China, Japan, and ROK Tourism Ministers last January 2013 in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The Philippines and Thailand were selected as the lead country coordinators to organize the summit, which Thailand convened for two consecutive years.
With the goal of informing the youth about the ASEAN initiatives and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) as agreed by the tourism ministers in January 2015, the summit provided a venue for cultural exchange, immersion, and appreciation. It also raised the level of awareness among the ASEAN youth on issues pertaining to cultural preservation, environmental protection, and socio-economic growth. The activity likewise established a strong foundation for the ASEAN youth in the tourism industry and highlighted the equality of men and women in the tourism industry.
Presentations were made on the travel and tourism industry situation in their respective countries. Group workshops ensued on three main topics: 1) Promote ASEAN as a single destination, 2) Enhance human resource development and quality tourism, 3) Ensure sustainable and inclusive tourism.
Among the inputs proposed are the following: formulation of an ASEAN Standard for Theme Parks and for the different ASEAN promotions board to merge and have the tactical campaign: “ASEAN, Endless Fascination”; development of additional connecting and chartered flights; implementation of an ASEAN Passport and ASEAN Lane; education and involvement of the local community through proper training; mainstreaming of tourism stakeholder participation; development of measures to ensure safety and security; prioritization of protection and maintenance of natural and cultural heritage and improvement of responsiveness to environmental protection and climate change.
The forty-two participants went on educational tours of Bohol and Cebu highlighting adventure, culture, and ecotourism. The Bohol leg included visits to the Chocolate Hills Adventure Park, Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary, and some resort facilities. The group also experienced lunch aboard the Loboc River cruise and tree planting at the Bohol Biodiversity Complex. In Cebu, the delegates had a city tour and a visit to the University of San Carlos.
Referring to the positive feedback from the participants, DOT Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. said, “We are very pleased to have been the host of this summit, enabling our delegates to experience a bit of our historic-cultural and natural heritage sites, as showcased in the provinces of Bohol and Cebu. The ASEAN Tourism Youth Summit provided a mechanism not only for exchange and sharing of ideas and cultural values, but also in encouraging innovation and creativity for the youth to harness tourism’s potential as a vehicle for socio-cultural and economic prosperity in ASEAN.”