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Tourism creates jobs

MANILA, Philippines - While Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. has set annual targets for foreign tourist arrivals, he stressed that the strategic goal goes far beyond the number of tourists visiting the country. While we strive to increase our share of the international tourism market, our efforts are aimed at creating jobs and income generating-activities in the local communities, he said.

To illustrate the point, let’s look at how, say, the accommodation sector could impact on job creation. One room constructed creates two direct and two indirect jobs. Thus, the 10,000 rooms, for example, would result in the employment of 40,000 workers.

From a macro perspective, tourism creates networks of different operations, from hotels and restaurants to adventure sports providers and food suppliers. Tourism centers form complex and varied supply chains of goods and services, supporting a versatile labor market with a variety of jobs for tour guides, translators, cooks, cleaners, drivers, hotel managers, and other service sector workers.

Many tourism jobs are flexible and can be taken on in parallel with existing occupations. A report from the National Economic and Development Authority showed that in the Philippines,the tourism industry contributes an average of 6.12 percent to gross domestic product and 9.68 percent to employment.

Owing to its potential for growth and being a product that can only be consumed in loco, tourism takes on an important role as a strategy for local development. Tourism can change poor people’s access to assets and to related livelihood options. It can generate funds for investment in basic services, provide better infrastructure, stimulate development of social capital and strengthen sustainable management of natural resources.

However, for tourism to succeed, it requires the close cooperation of government agencies, host communities and the industry’s private stakeholders. On the part of the national government, the Department of Tourism (DOT) and its attached agencies, one hand, and the local government units (LGUs), on the other, take the lead in the implementation of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP).

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One of the key DOT-attached agencies that plays a crucial role in tourism development is the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). Formerly the Philippine Tourism Authority, the TIEZA is responsible for the designation, regulation and supervision of tourism enterprise zones (TEZs), and the development of tourism-related infrastructure projects in accordance with the NTDP.

Every year, the TIEZA earmarks 50 percent of its total revenue for the following tourism infrastructure: 1) NTDP priority projects; 2) LGU priority projects; 3) eco-tourism projects for depressed provinces; 4) cultural, religious, historical, and religious sites; and TIEZA-owned properties.

Another major thrust of the TIEZA is the establishment of flagship TEZs. In the pipeline are the TEZ flagship projects in San Vicente, Palawan and Rizal Park Manila. The agency is committed to identify and masterplan six flagship TEZs each in the Visayas and in Mindanao by 2015.

For the San Vicente Flagship TEZ, the TIEZA has engaged the services of Palafox Associates to prepare the master plan, which is due for completion by September this year.

The TIEZA couldn’t have chosen a better place for its initial TEZ flagship program.  San Vicente’s white beach lies over a stretch of 14 kilometers of white sand. The area initially declared as tourism zone consists of 883 hectares. If Boracay’s beach, which spans for about 4 kilometers, is able to attract 1 million tourists a year, one can easily imagine the enormous potentials of San Vicente.

TIEZA’s objective is to complement Boracay. As the number of local and foreign tourists increases, we need to expand and diversify our destinations.

The government has committed P300 million for the improvement of the San Vicente airport which is only 15 minutes away from the Zone.

The development of San Vicente as a flagship tourism zone which requires the tripartite involvement of DOT-TIEZA, the local government, and the private sector, provides a new model for tourism development. And we hope to replicate this in other areas as well.

While TIEZA is confident that the development of the new flagship TEZs in San Vicente and in Rizal will further boost tourist arrivals in the country,  the agency is looking beyond the numbers.

What counts in the end is not the number of tourists who come to visit us, but how many of our people enjoy a better life because of tourism.

A public service announcement paid for by TIEZA.

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