More fun, jobs and money from tourism
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - December 13, 2019 - 12:00am

We had so much fun with the pieces of good news shared to us by the Department of Tourism (DOT) led by Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat during our Kapihan sa Manila Bay last Wednesday. This was especially after she announced one of the major projects of the DOT that will be launched early next year, one that is very close to the heart of many women – shopping.

Slated for launching in March is DOT’s “More Fun Sales in the Philippines” in which shopping malls all over the country will hold discounted and “red-tagged” bargain sales for one whole month. All major shopping malls in the country are set to participate in this project of the DOT led by SM, Ayala Malls, Megaworld, Vista Land, Robinsons, SSI, Shangri-La, Powerplant Malls in all their branches in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

“We noticed that all of them have been helping us individually. So we decided why don’t we have this Philippine Fun Sale wherein all the malls will hold sales for one month?” Puyat disclosed. Last May this year, the DOT partnered with SM Supermalls in the “Malling is More Fun in the Philippines” campaign in a bid to position the Philippines as a shopping destination.

Promoting shopping tourism in the country, she believes, is part of the equation to further spur the country’s economic growth, create millions of jobs, livelihoods and enterprises and help the Philippines become a globally recognized quality destination.

“By March we will have the first Philippine Fun Sale, for the first time, all the malls will come together… That’s to attract tourists to come here,” Puyat cited.

The DOT is still working out though the details with owners of the biggest mall chains which initially signified their interest to join this event. According to her, the DOT is partnering with these mall operators in line with her agency’s efforts to encourage tourists to spend more their time and money coming here in the Philippines.

From a DOT survey, shopping was the number one activity done by tourists who visited the country during the entire year in 2017. More than half, or 51.60 percent of total tourists arrivals showed they have shopped during their visit here in our country.

A tourist spends as much as an average amount of $20.90 or roughly about P1,000 (at P50 to $1 exchange rate) worth of shopping goods a day.

Thus, Puyat estimates the planned “Philippine Fun Sale” will help boost their agency revenue target of P661 billion in tourism revenues for next year as committed by the DOT under the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP).

Puyat bared the DOT projects along with key DOT officials who joined her during our weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay breakfast news forum at Café Adriatico in Remedios Circle, Malate. They were, namely, undersecretary Arturo P. Boncato Jr. for tourism regulation, coordination and resource generation; assistant secretary for branding and marketing communications Howard Lance Uyking; and assistant secretary for tourism development Roberto Alabado III; and Intramuros Administration chief Atty. Guiller Asido.

For this year, Puyat is confident the DOT is on track to meet their tourism receipts target of P564 billion. This is because, she noted, tourism receipts have already reached P379 billion from January to September for this period. This largely is the result of the much improved tourist arrivals.

Per DOT data, the country recorded a total of 6,800,052 visitors from January to October 2019, or an equivalent of an impressive 15.04 percent increase from the 5,911,161 arrivals for the same period last year. Puyat predicts total foreign tourist arrivals would further see hefty increase in the last two months this year that would include the volume of delegates who came here during our country’s hosting of the 30th South East Asian (SEA) Games.

Held from Nov. 30, the SEA Games officially ended last Wednesday night. But early as two weeks prior to the ceremonial opening of the SEA Games, Puyat disclosed many of the participating athletes and sports officials have arrived here ahead of the biennial regional sports competitions.

Despite these robust numbers of tourism growth, Puyat could only echo her hopes to hit the whole year target of 8.2 million international tourist arrivals. Realistically, she admitted, the goal of 8.2 million arrivals is just a fighting target set under the NTDP by her immediate predecessors at the DOT.

The DOT chief acknowledged the country’s hosting of the SEA Games would greatly boost the country’s tourism revenues by the end of this year.

“If we look at the estimated receipts, assuming they spend about an average daily expenditure of $100 a day, with 7,353 delegates for 14 days duration of stay, we have about P523,357,128. That’s as of now, the conservative estimate,” Puyat said after making mental calculations.

The SEA Games, in particular participants, were booked in 50 hotels in the National Capital Region, Region 1 and Region 3. Apart from the two-week SEA Games program, Puyat said some delegates are expected to stay longer to explore the country, which could result to even more tourism revenues.

More than the numbers, she pointed out, the DOT would rather look at the revenue figures out of the tourism receipts. From January to September, she noted, tourism receipts reached $7.3 billion compared to $5.8 billion for the same period last year, or this was 25 percent growth. About 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product came from tourism receipts, she added.

An economics professor during her past life in the private sector, Puyat subscribes to the multiplier effect of tourism in creating sales and business for hotel establishments, operators of beach resorts and restaurants, for airlines, ships and bus companies, tour groups, travel agencies, souvenir shops, etc.

This is why, Puyat underscored the importance of the private sector led by the Tourism Congress of the Philippines in supporting the various projects and initiatives of the government to make it not only “More Fun in the Philippines” but also to create more jobs and money for many Filipinos.

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