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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Aug 2, 2023

A strong comeback for PH tourism

From the onset, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has trained his sights on tourism as an important economic development tool that will bring in more income to the country and provide employment and livelihood opportunities to more Filipinos. It’s an industry crucial to the country’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

If we look at the numbers, we can see that the Philippine tourism industry is making a strong comeback. In 2022, the Department of Tourism (DOT) registered a total of 2.65 million international visitor arrivals, surpassing the target of 1.7 million inbound tourists. 

Meanwhile, there were over 102 million domestic trips recorded. The country earned over ₱1.87 trillion from the combined spending of foreign and local tourists. These numbers also translate to 5.35 million jobs for Filipinos.

For this year, DOT recorded a total of 3,000,079 international visitor arrivals from Jan. 1 to July 19, 2023. This is already 62 percent of DOT’s target of 4.8 million inbound tourists for the year.

Moreover, inbound tourism receipts from January to June this year is at ₱212.47 billion. This is 500 percent higher from January to June 2022 figures of ₱35 billion.

We cannot deny the impact of tourism on our economy and job creation. The consistent recovery of our tourism would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of DOT Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco who has been faithful to the Department’s mandate of establishing a national tourism industry that is resilient, sustainable, and inclusive, anchored on Filipino culture, heritage, and identity.

Among the accomplishments of the DOT under Secretary Frasco include the crafting of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023-2028 that serves as the DOT’s blueprint in transforming the Philippines into a tourism powerhouse in Asia.

The NTDP was crafted based on the “listening tours” that Secretary Frasco conducted since she assumed office to better connect with stakeholders and to employ a shared tourism governance approach toward tourism industry recovery.

On these listening tours, one of the demands that the DOT realized is to have a convenient place for stop overs, which must include clean and decent public restrooms.

In line with this, and to ensure enhanced tourism experience, the DOT launched Tourist Rest Areas (TRA) that offers tourists access to free facilities including clean restrooms, charging stations, information center, pasalubong center, and a lounge to rest in. Ten TRAs have already been established including in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, in Baguio City, several in Cebu, in Bohol, Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon, and in Samal Island in Davao. At least 15 TRAs are planned to be built this year.

Because internet connectivity is now a must for tourists, the DOT partnered with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to improve internet connectivity in several destinations in the country. They have already begun the improvement of internet connectivity in 47 out of the 94 identified destinations.

The DOT has also launched the very first Philippines Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours in Metro Manila. This is a mobile city bus tour program with a seamless and contactless travel system within strategic hubs of Metro Manila. This has been launched in Makati City and Manila, and will soon be launched in other cities in the Metro.

Just recently, the DOT also launched “The Philippines FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Tour Packages,” aimed at complementing the FIBA World Cup experience and maximizing the event as an opportunity to reintroduce the Philippines to the world. The DOT teamed up with a tourism consortium of national tourism associations to craft tour packages that showcase destinations such as those in Metro Manila, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, La Union and Pampanga, Cebu, Bohol, Iloilo and Bacolod, Boracay, Palawan, and Davao.

Under the leadership of Secretary Frasco, the DOT has more projects and programs. In collaboration with other government agencies, the DOT is also looking at visa reforms, including e-visa system that will facilitate ease of entry for visitors from the country’s tourist source markets.

The DOT is also continuously working to improve the overall tourism experience in the country, beginning with a warm welcome in our airports, and ensuring inclusivity, such as its efforts to make the Philippines a Muslim-friendly destination.

With all these efforts, and with the strong support of President Marcos Jr. in tourism development, the tourism industry will consistently perform strong and continue to be a reliable pillar of economic growth.

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