Aquino pushes domestic tourism

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SAMAL ISLAND, Davao del Norte: The government has allotted P24 billion for tourism infrastructure next year in a bid to strengthen domestic tourism and encourage more Filipinos to visit tourist spots.

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President Benigno Aquino 3rd expressed hopes that the number of domestic tourists will hit 70 million next year as he revised the original target of 56.1 million.

In his speech, Aquino said tourism does not only boost economic growth but generate jobs.

“At mayroon pang ilang buwan na natitira sa 2015, balita ko po’y nalampasan na natin at nasa 54.6 million noon pang 2014 [There are a few months left in 2015 and I have learned that we have already breached the target of 54.6 million in 2014]. From 30 million, it was revised to 50 million. From 50 million, can we reach 80 million? Maybe not since we have 10 months left. But we can probably hit 70 million with your help,” he added.

On international tourist arrivals, Aquino said the government has raised the average annual rate to 8.3 percent from 2010 to 2014.

The government aims to attract 10 million foreign tourists by the end of 2016.

“Mas mataas po ito sa itinalang 6.7 percent mula 2001 hanggang 2009 [This is higher than the 6.7 percent recorded from 2001 to 2009],” Aquino said.

To promote the tourism sector, Aquino said his administration allotted P60.48 billion for tourism road infrastructure from 2011 to 2015 for the implementation of 463 tourism road projects.

The amount, he said, is higher than the P13.79 billion spent from 2006 to 2010 during the previous administration.

“The good news: We have proposed P24 billion for the DPWH budget in 2016 to complete the construction of other tourism roads,” Aquino said.

The President acknowledged that more tourists will visit the country if there are better roads, bridges and other infrastructure for safe, fast and convenient travel.

“Because of the benefits brought by tourism and infrastructure, it is not only the economy that grows but also the welfare of many Filipinos. We are really giving attention to this and allocating appropriate funds],” he added.

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