EDITORIAL - Tourism potential
() - March 17, 2010 - 12:00am

The Tourism Act of 2009, or Republic Act 9593, was supposed to make the tourism industry more competitive in the region. Instead RA 9593 has become a source of rancor within the industry, threatening to defeat the purpose of the new law.

Officials of the Federation of Tourism Industries in the Philippines are up in arms over the implementing rules and regulations drawn up by the Department of Tourism for RA 9593, which shut out the federation from a recent Tourism Congress. Federation officials also said many accredited agencies did not participate in the selection of nominees to head DOT agencies that have been created by virtue of the new law: the Tourism Promotions Board, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, and the Duty Free Philippines Corp.

The DOT likes to brag about the number of tourist arrivals in the country, but those figures pale in comparison to those in neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. Even Cambodia, with Siem Reap as its principal tourist draw, is surpassing the Philippines in the number of visitors.

The figures are disheartening particularly when one considers all the attractions that the Philippines has to offer. Travelers in the region cite the insufficiency of flights to the Philippines, the lack of accommodations, and prices that are less attractive than those that neighboring countries offer. The Philippines also has one of the weakest tourism marketing programs in the region, and limited funding is not the only problem.

Tourism could be one of the biggest revenue earners for the Philippines. It could create jobs with decent pay that could lure back many Filipinos who have been forced to find employment overseas. But this can only happen if there is a healthy working relationship between the government and private players in the travel industry. If the government wants the Tourism Act to live up to its promise of making tourism a key engine of economic growth, it cannot afford to ignore those private players.

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM DUTY FREE PHILIPPINES CORP EVEN CAMBODIA OFFICIALS OF THE FEDERATION OF TOURISM INDUSTRIES PHILIPPINES REPUBLIC ACT SIEM REAP THAILAND AND VIETNAM TOURISM TOURISM ACT TOURISM CONGRESS
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