Initiative part of Spanish master plan for overseas cooperation
Spain is looking to invest and help to improve the tourism industry in the Philippines.
“We are working on a Memorandum of Understanding for Tourism Cooperation. This is based on the fact that the Philippines has a very brilliant future in tourism and on the other fact that Spain is one of the big powers in world tourism. We can mix our experiences,” Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Luis Calvo told Times in an interview.
Calvo said that Spanish groups are interested in investing in the Philippines but there are adjustments to be made in the industry in the Philippines not only in terms of hotel-building, but in the provision of transport and communication infrastructure as well.
“That has to be taken into account as well. Not only that you are setting goals and visions for tourism for the Philippines but as well that we are providing the means for this goal to be attained. I think when it comes to building this kind of conditions that are needed, Spain is ready to provide its experience when it comes to actually bringing tourists, Spain has the experience and track record for cooperating. I think the Philippines has the potential of becoming the next big destination in Southeast Asia,” Calvo said.
As the Department of Tourism declared 2015 as Visit Philippines Year, one of the highlighted events is the Madrid Fusion, one of the biggest culinary events in the world, to be held in Manila from April 24 to 26, 2015.
“It is going to be one of the first occasions in which Madrid Fusion goes actually out of Spain . . . it brings all the main personalities in gastronomy and has been there for quite a long time so it has a very consolidated prestige. And the fact that they are coming to the Philippines conveys the message that the Philippines is a very good place to do business, bring people, bring investors, bring tourists, and so on. And because we share so many things in gastronomy, the Filipino people will really like it,” Calvo said.
“We have two special events in the bilateral cooperation; the first one was the visit by President Aquino to Spain back in September and it was a very fruitful series of meetings in Madrid with the Prime Minister; and the visit of our Foreign Minister back in March in which we took the occasion to sign the new agreement of cooperation with the Philippines for the next three years,” Calvo said.
The visits signed several important agreements, according to Calvo. “I think that the basis and the framework for developing and strengthening the cooperation are there and now we have to continue working together and I hope that in the future we continue having more important visits,” he said.
“And I think development cooperation is also a very important element because it translates solidarity with the Philippines,” he added.
Improving Philippine-Spain relations
In terms of improving the Spanish-Philippine relations, Ambassador Calvo said one very important thing is cooperation with the people of the Philippines so that growth can be translated into social and economic development.
“I think Spain can contribute its own experience and its own tools for this to happen. And the second thing is we have to strengthen our economic cooperation. We have a lot of potential investors who are interested in the Filipino market. They are following the development of the Philippines and the discussions of the economy. They are very important global companies and they are very well placed in upgrading of the structures, public works, and so on,” he said.
“I think those two chapters of our relations should be developed and taken forward. And I think both the Filipino Government and the Spanish Government are in the same wavelength as far as priorities are concerned,” he added.
The Philippines is a priority country for the Spanish Cooperation, the only priority country in Asia within the Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2013-2016.
The Spanish Cooperation in the Philippines is structured around three pillars; Bilateral Cooperation, Cooperation channeled through Non-government agencies (NGOs), and Multilateral Cooperation.
The geographical areas of concentration of Spanish Cooperation in the Philippines are Bicol Region (Region V), and Mindanao, with special focus on Caraga Region and the Zamboanga Peninsula.
From 2012-2014, the Spanish government granted aid totaling 25 million euros to the Philippines.