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THAILAND ON GLOBAL STAGE
Thailand and the Philippines to Push for More Tourism Growth in the ASEAN Region

25 May 2008 (Readers 940)
 
Thailand and the Philippines have agreed to push for more tourism growth in the ASEAN region. The issue was discussed when Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej paid an official visit to the Philippines on May 22 and 23.

Prime Minister Samak was satisfied with the results of his visit to the Philippines and his discussion with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In order to promote ASEAN tourism, both sides discussed the possibility of introducing the "ASEAN single visa to facilitate traveling by international tourists to the ASEAN region. ASEAN groups 10 nations, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The introduction of the ASEAN single visa will also include the same package tour programs covering the 10 nations. The strength of each nation, such as food, will be used to publicize ASEAN tourism.

Thailand hosts 15 million tourists annually, while the Philippines welcomes only two million. Prime Minister Samak said that Thailand was ready to help boost tourism in the Philippines through communications links with neighboring countries. He suggested that the Philippines develop duty-free centers to encourage the arrivals of quality tourists and attract senior visitors from foreign countries, especially from Japan.

Prime Minister Samak said that if Thailand and the Philippines increased their flight frequencies, they would be able to welcome more tourist arrivals. In this connection, the Philippine President agreed to increase more flights between the two countries in response to the growing demand. The decision will contribute not only to tourism growth but also economic expansion.

Both Thailand and the Philippines shared the view that the 10 ASEAN nations should publish jointly publications to promote tourist attractions in the ASEAN region as a whole. The publications will benefit tourists visiting any ASEAN country.

ASEAN tourism ministers attending the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2008, held in Bangkok in January this year, agreed to make the region a single destination by 2010. They also would like to strive for visa-free tourism.

ASEAN received some 20% of the global market share in terms of arrivals. The region reportedly attracted more than 60 million visitors in 2007, an increase of more than eight per cent, about 43 per cent of which are intra-ASEAN arrivals.

Thailand and the Philippines will celebrate the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic relations next year. Prime Minister Samak invited the Philippine President to visit Thailand, which will host the ASEAN Summit in December this year. Tourism is expected to be one of the topics of discussion.


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