EXPORTERS are pushing for critical policy and economic reforms, including investment in infrastructure, to boost the productivity of the tourism and hospitality industries in the country.
Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PhilExports) President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. over the weekend noted that while the country’s tourism performance has been improving, it is still way below the performance of neighboring countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam despite their own problems.
“Clearly, we find ourselves in a catch up game again and unless the public and private sectors effectively work together in addressing bottlenecks that hamper further progress, moving forward will be daunting, even impossible,” he said.
Ortiz-Luis said there is a need to improve market access and connectivity by upgrading international and domestic airports and seaports; and reduce foreign carrier operations cost and eliminate the common carriers and tax on gross Philippine billings.
He identified other reforms imperative for boosting industry growth, including improving sea and road transportation services on safety and reliability; and developing and marketing competitive destinations, products and services.
Ortiz-Luis underscored the vital contribution of the tourism sector to the country, with 34.8 percent of total employment or about five billion Filipinos engaged in the food, beverage and accommodation sectors.
This is still outside the passenger transport sector which has recorded an even bigger employment share of 36 percent.
He said the gross value added of the tourism industry to total gross domestic product (GDP) has now reached P1.093 trillion in 2015, 14.8 percent higher from P952 billion recorded in 2010.
“Aside from trade, tourism is another sector that creates high value-added and positive ripples in the economy. Investments and jobs are generated, not to mention the socio-cultural exchange and development opportunities that become available. When taken advantaged of, such links can help enhance a country’s image and status in the global market,” Ortiz-Luis noted.
The export group chief reaffirmed the group’s partnership in helping institutionalize the much-needed reforms, as most exporter members are linked within tourism supply chain, such as food, furniture and furnishings, logistics and giftwares.
“A successful integration of our efforts and resources will surely bring more jobs, income and fun in the Philippines,” Ortiz-Luis said.