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DOT to pursue set goals for tourism recovery in line with Marcos’ vision

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
DOT to pursue set goals for tourism recovery in line with Marcosâ vision
This June 28, 2022 photo shows Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco.
DOT / released

MANILA, Philippines — In his first State of the Nation Address, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. cited the tourism sector as among his administration’s top priorities.

For Marcos, tourism is not just a key economic driver but also a source of livelihood.

“Tourism is not only an important economic development tool but the abundance of opportunities that the sector creates in terms of regular employment and even job creation at the grassroots level is undeniable,” he said during the nation address on Monday.

In his speech, Marcos cited that the gross domestic product saw an upward trend in tourism during the first quarter.

The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the tourism industry's growthin the past two years as it prompted the closure of the Philippine borders and prevented tourism activities, especially during its onset in March 2020 when the hard lockdown was implemented. The Department of Tourism, however, saw improved tourism figures in 2021.

The Philippine Statistics Authority last June reported the estimated contribution of the Tourism Direct Gross Value Added (TDGVA) to the country's GDP at 5.2% in 2021 from 5.1% in 2020.

The TDGVA for 2021 also amounted to P1,001.30 billion, a 9.2% increase compared with P917.20 billion in the previous year.

The PSA also recorded a 4.6% growth in employment in tourism-related industries from 4.68 million in 2020 to 4.9 million in 2021.

Due to the increased household consumption, private investments, tourism and employment, among others, Marcos is bullish on the economic growth for the rest of the year.

“This strong economic growth is projected to be sustained and expanded further to 6.5 to 8 percent from 2023 until 2028,” Marcos said.

Tourism recovery

To further improve the country's tourism, Marcos ordered the DOT and the Department of Public Works and Highways to jointly implement a program that would introduce infrastructure developments that will increase the convenience of travelers when going around the Philippines.

“To boost our tourism industry, we will first and foremost make basic developments such as road improvements for easier access to tourism spots. We will also upgrade our airports and create more international airports to help decongest the bottleneck at the Manila International Airport,” Marcos said, adding that this will help promote undiscovered tourist destinations in the country.

Aside from easing the travelers’ access, Marcos likewise mentioned his vision to enhance the “Filipino” brand in tourism.  

“They say, each brand has a story. As for the Filipino brand, ours is deeply rooted in our rich cultural heritage and the tourism sector plays an invaluable role in the promotion of the Filipino brand,” the president said.

Marcos said fostering this “Filipino” brand would spark our “sense of pride and reaffirm our strong sense of identity.”

“It is time to welcome the rest of the world with an enhanced Filipino brand that is unique, attractive, and creative,” he added.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco subsequently thanked the president for rallying behind the recovery of the country’s tourism industry. She is hopeful that with the help of the national government, local government units, private stakeholders, industry players and the Filipino people, the Philippines will exceed its global standing and tourist numbers and “transform it into a tourism powerhouse in Asia.”

“Indeed, the Filipino identity and strength of spirit is unlike any other in the world. With the president’s vision, we hope to be able to not only reclaim our standing [on] the global stage but to exceed it as that is the birthright of every Filipino,” Frasco said in a statement after the SONA.

SONA was not the first time Marcos expressed optimism for the country’s tourism industry and bared his infrastructure plans for the sector. He also made the same remark in his inaugural speech last June 30.

.“The recovery of Philippine tourism, with its emphasis on accessing nature’s beauty, I am sure, will exceed expectations,” Marcos said. 

Tourism objectives

Meanwhile, in a post-SONA economic briefing panel on infrastructure and industry on Tuesday, the tourism chief once again expressed satisfaction that the tourism agency shares the same vision with Marcos when it comes to the industry's recovery.

Frasco then outlined the main objectives that the DOT would pursue in line with Marcos’ vision for the country to become a major pillar in the country’s post-pandemic recovery. She previously mentioned the need to focus on three points from the perspective of travelers which are connectivity, convenience and equality.

“These main objectives include:

First, an improvement in infrastructure as well as accessibility, in relation to tourism destinations.

Second, a cohesive and comprehensive digitalization and connectivity.

Third, an enhancement of the overall tourist experience, studying closely the tourist life cycle to examine how we can best improve from end-to-end usage.

Fourth, a diversification of our present tourism portfolios to explore multi-dimensional tourism.

Fifth, an equalization of tourism marketing and product development opportunities, not only to well-known tourist destinations, but including, and especially, those that have not yet been given equal attention in areas across the Philippines.

Next, we have the efforts that we will be giving to ensure close local government coordination, as well as close coordination with our tourism stakeholders, recognizing that the tourism industry’s recovery simply will not be able to succeed without the help of local governments, without the help of the private sector,” Frasco said during the briefing.

For the tourism chief, it is important to ensure that the existing strategies that have been implemented are reviewed and the good programs in place are continued. She plans on introducing innovations and building strong coordination with tourism-enhancing government agencies to make the industry "more resilient against any crisis."

Frasco said the strategies she mentioned could help bring back the Philippines' position in the ASEAN and community of nations.

The DOT said Philippines currently ranks sixth in Southeast Asia in terms of tourist arrivals and preference vis-a-vis leaders including Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM

FERDINAND MARCOS JR

SONA 2022

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