The government will have to invest $23 billion in tourism infrastructure between now and 2022 to make the sector not only sustainable and highly competitive in the region but also socially responsible to propel inclusive growth, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In a statement on Monday, Finance Undersecretary Grace Karen Singson said this will be done under the current administration’s National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP), which is in line with the goal of transforming the sector into a major growth engine to sustain the Philippine momentum as one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies.
She said that under the NTDP, the government has targeted to build as much as 2,620 kilometers of tourism roads over the next six years, from a baseline of 900 kilometers, which will require an investment of $2 billion.
“As many renowned tourist sites in the Philippines, such as the Banaue Rice Terraces, the Chocolate Hills and Mt. Apo require long road travel, the Tourism Development Plan has also included the upgrading and construction of access roads to tourism sites and tourism development areas,” Singson said at the 11th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Finance Ministers’ Investor Seminar in Jakarta , Indonesia on November 15.
She said that as an Asean member, the Philippines can benefit from the regional bloc’s actions toward greater connectivity, especially in terms of air and sea travel, as well as improving travel facilitation, such as the full implementation of the Asean lanes.
Developing the tourism industry is integral to the Duterte administration’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda as the sector is the third biggest contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP) and accounted for five million jobs in 2015, mostly in the areas of transport and hospitality services, and representing 12.7 percent of the total employment.
“In the Philippines, we recognize the need to develop our tourism industry, as its importance to the Philippine economy has grown. Tourism has become the third largest contributor to the Philippines’ GDP, after the trade and real estate Sectors. As GDP growth for the Philippines reached 5.2 percent in 2015, tourism accounted for 1.11 percentage points of the increase,” Singson said.
Singson said the government’s goal is to double the number of foreign tourist arrivals, increase tourism revenues by 90 percent and generate 14.4 percent of total jobs from the tourism sector by the time President Duterte steps aside in 2022.
She said the Asean Mutual Recognition Agreement on tourism professionals, which has been signed by all 10 Asean member states, would allow the Philippines and its fellow members in the regional bloc to share best practices and skills to further improve their respective tourism industries.