Dear Distinguished Delegates,
Singapore is honoured to host the next ASEAN Tourism Forum in 2017 with the Theme - "Shaping our Tourism Journey Together". This theme speaks to the importance of continual, collective efforts by ASEAN members to address challenges and opportunities as we jointly develop and grow the tourism industry in the region.
In celebration of ASEAN's 50th Anniversary and our tourism journey, let us seize this opportunity to re-dedicate our collective commitment to the ASEAN ethos and spirit as we face a future full of promise. To commemorate this special year, ASEAN will also launch a year-long travel campaign to promote the region's diverse offerings.
Within the ASEAN Economic Community, Tourism is one of the priority sectors for integration by 2015, and to achieve this, ASEAN has adopted the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2011-2015. Together with our partners, stakeholders and the community, ASEAN has worked tirelessly to gear the region towards increasing the quality of services and standards, enhancing our tourism products and infrastructure, increasing connectivity and improving the quality of life and opportunities for the community through responsible and sustainable tourism development. Cognisant of these achievements, ASEAN will build further on this momentum and develop the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2016-2025. This will strategically transform our region into a competitive, sustainable, and more socio-economically inclusive and integrated tourism destination.
Singapore too, shifted our focus towards Quality Tourism, ensuring that tourism continues to be an important economic driver. Our hardware and software developments create lasting experiences for our visitors while generating meaningful jobs for Singaporeans. Singapore's tourism industry is part of a national initiative, SkillsFuture, to provide Singaporeans with opportunities to develop relevant skills so as to enable them to achieve their fullest potential.
Over the years, Singapore has worked at developing new tourism offerings. There have been some exciting developments recently, in particular, the opening of our new National Gallery, dedicated to showcasing an amazing art collection from Singapore and Southeast Asia; the recognition of our Singapore Botanic Gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the transformation of cosmopolitan Singapore into a compelling and exciting destination with vibrant dining, shopping and entertainment experiences; and the growth of cruise lines plying the region from Singapore.
There is much more to discover of Singapore and ASEAN, and I warmly welcome you to ATF2017!