Tourism could be the easiest way bringing the Philippines out of poverty so the government should take advantage of the country’s natural attractions, the chief of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines said.
The country, ECCP President Guenter Taus said, has “all the ingredients to build a very successful tourism industry.”
“The biggest potential the Philippines has is the tourism industry. But it is hardly tapped … you have a beautiful country with nice mountains up north, beautiful beaches down south and probably one of the best underwater worlds if we don’t continue to damage it and start preserving it,” he added.
Proficiency in the English language in another substantial advantage, he noted.
“I see a lot of smiles, everybody smiles in this country and that is something that you don’t see in other countries,” he said.
“The easiest way to bring the Philippines out of poverty is tourism because the resorts are not in Metro Manila, they are outside and in the middle of nowhere so you create jobs. You see how the village grows and you really see a change. You just go out to undiscovered areas and create jobs there, that is the easiest way there,” Taus said.
The government would do well to implement plans to build more roads and airports, and also move to liberalize the aviation sector.
“The moment we start having… or stopping the monopoly of PAL (Philippine Airlines) and start opening up to other carriers which will directly fly to these destinations you will see the numbers go up,” he said.
Easing ownership restrictions on land will also help bring in investors, he claimed.
Taus said the government should also allow bigger groups to lease property for a longer period of time.
“That makes it viable to earn … as several hundreds of millions of dollar [are needed]to build a resort,” he said.
While Boracay island is undoubtedly a premier tourist draw, the government should look at promoting beach destinations elsewhere in the country.
“I don’t understand why the Philippines is not pushing for other beaches other than Boracay because there are other beaches better than Boracay that are still underdeveloped. The sector could be easily developed,” Taus said.
The Tourism department is targeting 6.5 million tourist arrivals for this year.