THE holding of next year’s Miss Universe beauty pageant in the Philippines and an exchange tourism agreement with Thailand are just two of the key successes the new tourism chief has accomplished within the first 50 days of her term.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo is a long-time travel agency executive and industry leader and her first order of business was to pick sure performers for her support staff to revitalize the DOT’s daily operations.
She noted that the DOT is one of the country’s top earning industries and that she “knows by heart” the state of affairs in the tourism scene.
She held a marathon meeting with the agency’s ranking and regional directors to conduct a reality check and ascertain that its resources were being used efficiently for tourism-related projects and activities only.
“After all, that is the mandate of President Rodrigo Duterte: Stop corruption and ensure that the fruits of tourism industry will trickle down to the masses,” Teo said.
As chair of the board of directors of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), she announced the scrapping of the “processing fee” for the issuance of certificates of Travel Tax Exemption and Reduced Travel Tax effective July 25, 2016.
She is also pushing for “shared tourism” to ensure that the economic benefits of tourism are inclusive of the marginalized members of the community.
At an industry reception for tourism leaders and DOT officials on July 11 at the Diamond Hotel in Manila, Teo disclosed the proposal to hold the next Miss Universe pageant in Manila, a timely idea since the reigning Miss Universe is the country’s very own Bb. Pilipinas Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.
Having secured President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of the proposal, Teo said the DOT will ensure the successful staging of the event.
On August 3, the Miss Universe Philippine hosting committee met at the DOT main office to set the ball rolling, with the participation of at least 12 departments and agencies.
Teo emphasized the need for coordination among government entities particularly in addressing concerns such as facilitating the arrival/admission of the Miss U contestants, companions and organizers, public safety, traffic, travel and hotel accommodations.
“The maddening traffic mess is obviously the one single problem that beset our daily economic activities in Metro Manila, and we will find ways so as not to aggravate this with the hosting of Miss Universe,” said Teo.
Teo requested the representatives of the member agencies of the hosting committee to submit inputs for the formulation of the master plan for the Miss Universe hosting.
Also within her first 50 days, the country embarked on an “exchange tourism” agreement with Thailand during Teo’s four-day visit to Bangkok recently.
The DOT chief also visited the Fil-Am community in New Jersey, USA and asked the help of the community in promoting the Philippines as a tourism destination.
While there, she discussed her advocacy of the one-town, one product concept, how DOT is eyeing medical tourism as a p rime magnet for East Coast Fil-Am and non-Filipino tourists, the enhancement of Filipino cuisine’s profile as tourist attraction and the local governments’ participation in boosting tourism through the offices of mayors and governors.
Teo also emphasized that the DOT aims to promote domestic tourism as well. “Filipinos should not be strangers in their own country. They should be able to see with their own eyes the bountiful beauty God has endowed this country,” she said.