Governor opens ATF senior officials meeting in Manado

Manado, N Sulawesi (ANTARA) - North Sulawesi Governor Sinyo Sarundajang opened the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) senior officials meeting (SOM) in Manado on Sunday.

To last from January 8-15, 2012, the senior official meeting took place at Grand Kawanua International Center in Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province.

"The meeting is attended by all officials at the level of secretary general in ASEAN member countries," Sarundajang said after opening the meeting.

He said it was an exceptional meeting because around 495 travel agencies had been conducting trillions of rupiah transactions in the business of tourism.

"Economy and Trade have become leading sector in ASEAN and therefore the meeting is expected to bring hope to ASEAN countries to become become a world-class tourist destination," Sarundajang said.

The governor expressed hope that the ASEAN Tourism Forum to be participated in by the ASEAN tourism ministers along with their dialog partners from the United States, India, and the Middle East would produce a tourism business agreement among ASEAN member countries.

"It will be of great advantage to North Sulawesi following the opening of direct flight from Guangzhou to Manado in the near future and therefore we are optimistic that around 100 thousands tourists will visit North Sulawesi this year," the governor noted.

Meanwhile, North Sulawesi provincial government spokesman Siswa Rahmat Mokodongan said Manado city was known with its ecotourism, but they would offer 11 tourist destinations including Bunaken National Park in North Sulawesi.

Mokodongan said that after the senior officials meeting, all districts and cities in the province would be encouraged to manage their tourism assets to attract as many tourists as possible. (*)