Address more effectively the deteriorating peace and order conditions in the country especially in the various tourist destinations, Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza called on the government on Friday.
“Palawan, Boracay and Malapascua have been ranked No. 1 in the quality of their beaches and the hospitality of our people. Pero nakalulungkot na kulelat tayo sa bilang ng mga bisita [But is saddens me that the Philippines has the least number of visitors]. Incidents like the robbery of four female Chinese along a national highway in Cebu to visit Malapascua Island reverberates around the world, discouraging tourists from visiting our country. Who in his right mind would like to come to a place where he is not safe?” he said, during his interpellation of Cebu Fourth District Rep. Benhur Salimbangon, who had expressed his concern that the crime committed in broad daylight in his hometown would gravely affect tourism in the area.
The country has failed to reach its target for tourist arrivals of 10 million, Atienza pointed out to Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez during a budget hearing of the House Committee on Appropriations.
He criticized Jimenez for denying that there is a peace and order problem in the country while putting the blame again on alleged problems they inherited from the previous administration.
“Our country is overflowing with beautiful beaches and wondrous destinations to visit, and yet the country was recently ranked No. 6 among Asean nations in terms of tourist arrivals, posting a mere 4.8 million. Malaysia topped the list with 27 million, Thailand 24 million, Singapore 15 million, Indonesia 9.4 million and Vietnam with 7.8 million. Cambodia which ranked No. 7 had 4.5 million. We cannot seem to convince tourists to come,” Atienza said in a statement.
“It is high time that the DOT [Department of Tourism] face the fact that deteriorating peace and order and the horrible traffic conditions in Metro Manila have been adversely affecting tourist arrivals for the past five years. These are what they [Aquino administration] should be addressing, instead of using the [Arroyo] administration as a convenient alibi for failure,” he added.
“I strongly urge Secretary Jimenez to do something about the peace and order conditions if we want to meet our 10-million target. We should protect our tourists. Definitely, our country would benefit greatly from higher tourist arrivals,” Atienza said.