World travel council cites tourism’s role in Phl’s GDP growth
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - December 12, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Tourism’s contribution to the GDP of the Philippines has increased by more than 50 percent since 2010, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC).

In 2014, the United States alone contributed about 723,000 visitors to the Philippines out of 4.8 million international arrivals, making the US the second largest market for international visitors, after South Korea with almost 1.2 million visitors to the country last year.

“Tourism thrives in an atmosphere of excitement and encouragement,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said during a tourism conference at the World Bank headquarters in Washington on Dec. 8. 

Jimenez spoke on “Pathways to Growth,” which discussed how developing countries could capture their share of global tourism.

The panel discussion was part of the World Bank’s tourism conference entitled, “Driving Development Through Tourism.”

Jimenez, the brains of the government’s tourism slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” said the Philippines is a prime destination for international meetings and conferences. 

“The most successful meetings are those where people can’t tell the difference between business and leisure travel,” he said.  

Citing the success of the Philippines’ year-long hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, Jimenez noted how some of the most important agreements such as the APEC action agenda to promote the globalization of micro, small and medium enterprises and the plan of action to enhance financial cooperation in the region were reached in the leisure islands of Boracay and Cebu, respectively.

He reminded the audience of the role of tourism in assisting communities to recover from the effects of natural disasters such as Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which hit the country in 2013.

He said the Department of Tourism’s role during the post-Haiyan recovery efforts was to find areas in Eastern Visayas least damaged by the typhoon, so that these areas can be destinations for tourism that can generate a source of income for the affected communities.

Although he acknowledged that the country is still recovering from the effects of the typhoon, Jimenez said the Aquino administration had learned from the experience and is approaching disaster recovery with the mantra “Build Back Better.”

When asked what recommendations he had for the World Bank as it endeavors to promote development through tourism, Jimenez proposed that the international community would be better served by agreeing on a fresh vocabulary to measure the performance and quality of tourism’s contribution to the economy.

The forum gathered government representatives and private sector leaders to discuss opportunities in tourism to promote development and growth while addressing the challenges of the sector in emerging economies.

ACIRC ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION SUMMIT BORACAY AND CEBU BUILD BACK BETTER DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM DRIVING DEVELOPMENT THROUGH TOURISM EASTERN VISAYAS HAIYAN JIMENEZ TOURISM WORLD BANK
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