Marcos vows full support for tourism sector

Ghio Ong, Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Marcos vows full support for tourism sector
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa raised their glasses to honor in advance the 63rd birthday of Japanese Emperor Naruhito in Taguig City on February 22, 2023.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — Citing the importance of tourism in stimulating economic activity, President Marcos reiterated his administration’s support for the sector as the country continues to recover from the pandemic.

Marcos noted the number of tourist arrivals is “steadily increasing” and would hopefully reach pre-pandemic levels.

“I assure you that the government’s commitment to strengthen the domestic tourism industry remains a top priority and Ilocos Norte will play a very large part of that,” Marcos said in his speech during the celebration of Tan-Ok Ni Ilocano: The Festival of Festivals at the Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. Stadium in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte on Friday night.

“Beyond today’s revelry, this event is expected to stimulate economic activity and support Ilocano families by driving tourism industries, sustaining local livelihoods,” he added.

Marcos urged the next generation of Ilocano artists “to be proud of your

identity and integrate our rich customs and traditions into the art that you showcase.”

“Let us share with our fellow Filipinos, and the rest of the world, the story of our roots in the upland indigenous communities, the vibrant communities of Ilocos, many of which have been crucial in molding us into what we are as a people today,” the President said.

In his first State of the Nation Address in July last year, Marcos identified tourism as one of the top priorities of his administration, noting its 12.9-percent contribution to gross domestic product.

“We are banking on this potential to reshape the industry to be one of the key economic drivers of the country,” Marcos said.

More tourists

For its part, the Department of Tourism (DOT) plans to attract more tourists from the United Kingdom (UK) and Spain.

Last week, Laure Beaufils and Miguel Utray Delgado, ambassadors of the UK and the Kingdom of Spain, paid separate courtesy calls on Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco.

“We are aggressively approaching airline partners, both local and international, on this matter. Opening more routes will not only help our overseas Filipino workers (OFW) but also usher in tourists from the UK and Europe. Our objective is to open up the Philippines to that side of the world as we know that we have tourism products that are very attractive to Europeans,” Frasco recalled having told Beaufils.

She and the ambassador also tackled the prospect of “formalizing” cooperation between the Philippines and the UK “primarily in the aspects of arts, English as the Second Language (ESL) and sustainability projects” of the DOT.

The British were the country’s fifth top foreign visitors last year, accounting for 101,034 tourists.

On the other hand, Frasco and Utray discussed the creation of a memorandum of understanding for tourism cooperation between the Philippines and Spain that would pave way for direct flights between the two countries.

They also explored the “possible establishment of a Filipino Center in Spain, sustainable tourism development, capacity building of more Spanish-speaking tour guides, gastronomy and heritage/pilgrimage tourism and tourism-related investments,” the DOT said.

Last year, the country welcomed a total of 19,194 Spanish travelers.

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