WITH the continuing boom in Philippine tourism, the country will need 15,000 more hotel rooms to be able to meet the targeted 10 million tourist arrivals in 2016, a tourism official said.
Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) chief operating officer Mark Lapid told The Manila Times that TIEZA is adding at least 15,000 more hotel rooms to ease the growing demand from foreign and local visitors given the government’s tourist arrival target of 10 million in 2016.
TIEZA is an attached agency of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Lapid said the country currently has only 28,000 to 30,000 hotel rooms which would not be enough if the target of 10 million visitors is met next year.
While he remains very positive that the Philippines can hit that target, Lapid admitted that some factors hinder the growth of Philippine tourism industry.
“We have to consider that we lack in accommodations, we lack in airlines, and we have airport congestion and flights are . . . we cannot expand. So these are the problems that we have to face, we have to settle them first before we can achieve the 10 million tourists,” he said.
“There’s a computation that our consultants gave us because of the National Tourism Development Plan. Being a country with many islands we need more air connectivity for our growing tourist arrivals,” he added.
In terms of job translation, Lapid said, “We’re going to have the figure by next month to have our midyear report. We will add it to our midyear report. Now, tourism is already the number four main contributor in our GDP.”
He said that the targets on “job creation and everything, we topped it by 200 percent. Right now, on foreign arrivals, we’re already at six million. We started from two million.”
Lapid suggested the need to amend some laws to accommodate more investors and to allow more airlines to come into the country.
He said that infrastructure projects with the help of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will bolster the growth of tourism in the country.
“They allocated P17 billion in their budget to be identified for tourism destinations to connect to all the roads. I think it helps a lot to reach those destinations, plus the facilities we need. So we’re doing those facilities right now, we’re helping them to kick-start the tourism activity in the area,” he said.
“It’s really a good sign. So I think we just need to continue what we have started and I think the momentum is there already. We already kick-started it, so I hope the following administration will really push for tourism because it’s really it’s really the sunshine industry of our country. There is a huge potential and we have to push for it,” he added.
Commenting on the country’s hosting of the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, Lapid said that TIEZA has already spent at least one billion pesos over the last six months to catch up with tourism projects for the APEC visitors.
Meanwhile, Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya told The Times that, “With the renovation of (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Terminal 1, hopefully that gets us out of that notorious list which, I think, really, we’re not supposed to be there.”
“The five biggest airlines are now in T3 (Terminal 3). Takenaka (Corp. of Japan) is finishing up there so hopefully, the last portion of their contract is within the year so construction will eventually stop,” Abaya said.
“I think T1 should be done by the third quarter as well. We’ve bid out Mactan . . . We’re also bidding out the PPP (public- private partnership projects) for five regional airports—Iloilo, Bacolod, Panglao, Laguindingan, and Davao. There’s interest there, we’ll follow the same route as Mactan. We’re about to present to NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) a PPP on NAIA so hopefully that’s a huge project, [we hope to get]many interested bidders, and get the private sector to run as well,” Abaya said.
He said the DOT is on track with its tourism targets for the second half of the year under its Visit the Philippines Year (VPY) 2015 campaign.
“We’re now growing close to 9.2 percent (in tourist arrivals) as of the last report. That’s way above the Asean average, which is roughly at about 6 percent. So we’re really happy. We wish it would be more but we’re doing very well,” Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. told The Manila Times.
“And we’re more focused on foreign receipts and revenue income and that’s doing very well. We are on track as far as revenue is concerned.
We are now at about $2 billion moving toward the end of the year. It’s very close to our target,” he said.
Jimenez added that a lot of previous tourism investments are going to be weighing in toward the end of this year.
“Finally we will see the completion of the renovation of our airports in NAIA and in other airports, and we expect an even heavier influx of tourists. Now the marketing campaign continues,” he said.
DOT is pushing for the infrastructure projects needed for the APEC Leaders Summit later this year.
“We’re getting a lot of practice because we have already hosted over 20, maybe more meetings already, building up to the leaders’ meeting.
APEC is a series of over 30 meetings, so we’re getting a lot of practice. We’re getting better and better,” Jimenez said.
Meanwhile, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) chief operating officer Domingo Ramon Enerio III said, “the revenue picture has increased by quite a substantial amount and we’re generating at least $1,100 per visitor who come to the Philippines.”
“We’re also generating so much revenue for domestic tourism and of course that creates a lot of jobs in the countryside. So we’re up in all those three metrics in terms of arrivals, both international and domestic, in terms of revenue, and in terms of job generation,” said.