THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is all set to participate in the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) to be held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam from January 21 to 28, 2010.

Under the theme “Asean - The Heart of Green,” ATF 2010 will echo the success of the forum in the previous years in promoting tourism and responsible environmental and social practices in tourism-related businesses.

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The tourism department, for its part, said that eco-tourism has always been its advocacy through its promotions and activities.

“Green tourism has always been our advocacy, being a country blessed with natural resources and ecotourism sites. With our participation in this upcoming event in Brunei Darussalam, we aim to not only promote our tourism destinations, but also to call for responsible travel – both from industry players and tourists alike,” said Tourism Secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano.

This 2010, ATF marks its 29th anniversary since it was first inaugurated in Malaysia in 1981.

Over 1,600 participants are eyed in the event while 400 seller organizations and another 400 host buyers are expected at the Travel Exchange (Travex), the travel mart component of the annual event.

The event involves tourism industry sectors from 10 South East Asian nations including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Representatives from the Philippines will comprise of 15 private sector companies, DOT officials Durano, Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions Eduardo Jarque, Jr., Undersecretary for Tourism Services & Regional Offices Oscar P. Palabyab, Director Rolando Cañizal of the Office of Tourism Development Planning and Director Ma. Victoria Jasmin of the Office of Tourism Standards, and officials from the DOT-Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA).

Jarque said: “We are optimistic that 2010 will be a year of ‘green growth’ for the industry, as more and more people are becoming aware of responding to the environmental impacts through green travel.”

Among those activities that may be associated with green tourism or eco-tourism are bird and dolphin watching, nature trekking, snorkelling and visit of wildlife sites. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)