The Department of Tourism (DOT) has proposed an enhancement of connectivity between the Philippines and Indonesia by adding more direct flights outside of the country's main gateway, Manila.

This came during the bilateral meeting of DOT Secretary Christina Frasco and her counterpart, Minister Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno of Indonesia, at the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2023 which Indonesia has hosted.

'We are here to express our desire to deepen the relations between our countries considering that as members of the ASEAN, we hold great potential in terms of the region as a unified tourist offering to those on the other side of the globe,' said Frasco.

'At present the direct flights from Indonesia go only to Manila but there are many other destinations that we feel could present enormous tourism opportunities, including Cebu, Davao, as well as other parts of the Philippines,' added Frasco.

She also discussed the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) offerings of the Philippines, noting that this is a strong point of Indonesia and offered collaboration in furtherance of the Philippines' tourism products.

This includes pilgrimage, cruise, English as a Second Language (ESL), and Halal Tourism.

Frasco also stressed the significance of strengthening its cooperation under the BIMP-EAGA on the aspect of linking the Southern Philippines (Mindanao) to the North of Indonesia through connectivity by air and sea.

Indonesian Minister Uno, for his part, later conveyed his intent to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tourism Cooperation with the Philippines for collaboration and promotion for both countries as far as regional tourism development is concerned.

Uno added that under the Creative Economy, Indonesia's focus has been to strengthen MSMEs as part and parcel of the tourism value chain.

Indonesia also expressed its desire to collaborate in terms of country tourism promotions, film tourism, and human capital development.

During its meeting, Frasco also lauded Indonesia for its excellent hosting of the ASEAN Forum 2023, the biggest tourism gathering of industry leaders and professionals from the Southeast Asian nations while Indonesia also lauded the country's rehabilitation and sustainability efforts done on the world-famous Boracay Island after its shutdown adding that they also wish to learn from the Philippines on best practices on sustainability.

Meanwhile, DOT also got four awards during the ASEAN Tourism Awarding ceremony which is also part of the ATF 2023.

The country got awards in four categories - Asean homestay, Asean public toilet, Asean spa services and the Asean community-based tourism.

The model public toilet award was conferred to the Cordillera Convention Hall, William Tan Enterprises (Caltex Irawan), DEU 818 Corporation (High Ridge Restaurant) and Shell OGI at the Northwalk 2, City Environments and Management Office.

The Palaui Environmental Protectors Association (PEPA) received the Asean community-based tourism citation while the Apricus Therapuetic clinic at the Hilton Clark and Quan Spa at the Clark Marriott Hilton as the Asean Spa services awardees.

The five homestays in the country that were given awards were Inandako's Bed and Breakfast, Gina's Homes, Sid Homestay, HideAway House and Maryhilz Homestay.


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