MANILA : The Philippines government has outlined a twin city arrangement involving Manila and Bangkok as part of a plan to promote regional tourism.
Ramon Jimenez Jr, secretary of the Department of Tourism of the Philippines, said Manila wanted to link with other Asean countries, particularly Thailand, whose people share similarities with the Philippines people. The two nations have also enjoyed lasting cordial relations.
Mr Jimenez said Philippines President Benigno Aquino has set out a policy to establish the two capitals as twin cities to promote tourism.
Since many airlines stop in both cities, visa arrangements must be made easier for visitors to the two countries, he said.
Mr Jimenez said authorities from the two countries had already discussed the plan and would work together to hammer out the details.
He said the Philippines wanted to act as a gateway connecting other countries in the region, through the Pacific Ocean and to the US.
Manila was a strong supporter of tourism, although there were obstacles that needed to be overcome, he said. Facilities and infrastructure such as airports and roads linking the country's islands must be expanded and improved.
The government has reduced tax to boost tourism, and trained more tourism personnel to ensure they have the necessary skills to handle foreign tourists.
Mr Jimenez said the Philippines government has invested a great deal in public relations campaigns to attract at least 10 million foreign tourists this year.
The country hopes to boost tourism's contribution to its GDP by 11-12%, he added.
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- Writer: Mongkol Bangprapa