The Philippines will need to cooperate and at the same time compete with Asean’s regional tourism powerhouses to be able to sustain the country’s gains in tourism, industry officials said.
“We can bring the world to us. But at the same time, as different economies, we have to compete, so… we have coined a new word for this, ‘coopetition.’ So we cooperate and at the same time we compete,” Jay Yuvallos, Philippine representative, Asean Business Advisory Council (ABAC), said during the 3rd Philippine Tourism Forum held recently at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City.
“Now competition is not really bad at all because when you compete, you have to strive to be better, to be faster to market, and to be more consistent and more sustainable,” Yuvallos said.
He noted that there are some barriers to competition. “There are impediments, like for example in the Philippine case, we have some constitutional limitations when it comes to, for example, investments in different sectors. Ownership of land, definitely we are not yet there compared to Singapore, Malaysia, and these other countries,” he said.
“The business community has a way of breaking the barriers. So that’s why, if you look at community building, it is actually being built from the bottom up. Businesses are collaborating, intra-Asean travel has grown by leaps and bounds, low-cost carriers are sprouting everywhere, because there is business, there is business in integration,” he added.
For his part, Alexander Cabrera, chairman and senior partner of Isla Lipana & Co., the Philippine member firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), cited the importance of tourism to inclusive growth.
He said tourism “is a very vital approach to promoting inclusive growth. When individuals come, economic activity will follow and hopefully investments will follow. Everyone’s lives will be uplifted.”
Cabrera said that tourism is not only for foreigners because tourism can also be largely domestic, and that the country has a lot of domestic destinations to offer. “The reason why I’m saying that is that they are not first-class facilities right now but they have very good potential to becoming, to having these first-class facilities later when economic activity increases,” he said.
But Cabrera stressed that the main thing to do about these places is to make sure that the development will not violate the premises of the natural assets.
For her part, Aileen Clemente, president of Asean Tourism Association (Aseanta), said: “As far as Asean is concerned, the biggest thing the Philippines really needs to fix is we’re the only non-signatory to the open skies. Indonesia already signed even if their primary reason was the congestion in Jakarta but they said we can sign.”