The new chief of the Department of Tourism (DOT) hopes to exceed a target of 10 million to 12 million tourist arrivals to the Philippines per year by 2022, more than double the visits recorded in 2015.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo said achieving such ambitious goal would require focus on tourism-related infrastructure, development of new destinations in the country, and expanded marketing, particularly through social media.
Teo made the comments to The Manila Times on Friday, enumerating her department’s objectives and naming several new officials to offices within the department.
“I would like to focus on infrastructure development, which means the airports should be improved, as well as the roads to the destinations,” Teo said.
She also stressed the need for the DOT to assess “underdeveloped” tourist destinations in the country to attract both foreign and domestic travelers.
“Second, we have to develop new destinations. If we have underdeveloped destinations, we’ll improve their facilities. Next is focusing on advertising,” Teo said.
The new tourism chief lauded the effectiveness of the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign directed at foreign travelers. The current campaign would be retained, Teo said, until they come up with a better campaign slogan in the near future.
“In the next few days, I will be meeting with different travel and tour organizations, associations, LGUs (local government units), hotels, resorts, and the transportation sector, so we would know what needs to be done in their sectors,” Teo said.
Teo, being the owner of Mt. Apo Travel and Tours, cited the effectiveness of online promotions and booking services, and said that the DOT will ramp up its online presence during her term through social media platforms.
“The Philippines is such a beautiful destination, where people speak and understand English. I will capitalize on this. We will maximize social media in terms of marketing,” she said.
Hitting the 10 million to 12 million target may prove to be challenging as tourism arrivals, though increasing in the past few years, have fallen short of the government’s goals, but is still possible at the 10-percent current growth rate.
According to data from the 2015 Philippine Tourism Satellite Accounts compiled by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), tourist arrivals reached 5.3 million in 2015, about a 10 percent increase from the 4.8 million arrivals in 2014, which in turn was 3.25 percent higher than the 4.6 million arrivals in 2013.
2015 tourism receipts reached P306.6 billion, amounting to an 8.2-percent share of total exports and providing 4.98 million jobs, the PSA said in a statement accompanying the data.
Despite the accelerated growth of tourist arrivals last year, the year-end total still fell short of the government’s target of 6 million. In an earlier statement issued before leaving office, former Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said the DOT was confident that the revised target of 6.5 million arrivals by the end of 2016 could be met if the new Duterte Administration approved the 2016-2022 National Tourism Development Plan.
“To maintain the industry’s growth, the 2016-2022 National Tourism Development Plan has been sent to new administration for approval. This should help sustain the strong first quarter growth in tourist arrivals, and help the country meet its target of 6.5 million tourists by year-end,” Jimenez said.
At the current growth rate of approximately 10 percent, tourist arrivals would exceed 10 million by the end of 2021, and 11.5 million by the end of 2022.
In other moves, Tourism Secretary Teo appointed a number of new DOT officials to administrative offices, including Falconi Millar as Undersecretary for Administration; Gwen Javier as the Assistant Secretary for Administration; Maria Lourdes Japson as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of the Secretary; Assistant Secretary for Media Affairs Shalimar Tamano; Undersecretary for Media Affairs Katherine de Castro; and Alma Rita Jimenez as the Undersecretary for Tourism Regulation, Coordination, and Resource Generation (TRCRG).
To complete the list of the new officials, the DOT chief appointed Eden David as Assistant Secretary for TRCRG; Rolando Cañizal as Assistant Secretary for Tourism Development Planning, and Benito Bengzon Jr. as Undersecretary for Tourism Development Planning.