Various tourism groups in the Philippines presented a collective agenda for tourism development with a focus on infrastructure, business competitiveness and promotion for the incoming government of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
In its third general membership meeting last week, the Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) gathered its 300 members to discuss the future of Philippine tourism.
During the meeting, Alma Jimenez of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) presented the “Tourism Agenda for the First 100 Days of the New Government,” containing policy recommendations for the next administration to improve the local tourism industry.
Jimenez said the industry’s wishlist for the incoming government is focused on three major areas, namely “implementation of needed infrastructure development; fostering Philippine competitiveness in the global market; and boosting inbound and domestic tourism.”
Jimenez said the tourism plan was developed in consultation with the public and private sectors, and is intended to “harmonize infrastructure, tourism attractions, and the business environment to enhance the coordination of all tourism sectors.”
The MAP official said she is confident that the incoming administration will give the same full support to the tourism industry that the outgoing administration has shown.
Philtoa members also evaluated how public and private sector stakeholders have transformed Philippine tourism into a national industry with an assessment of the country’s tourism in the last six years of the Aquino Administration.
Philtoa member and president of Rajah Travels Jose Clemente 3rd said, “The image of the Philippines as a destination has improved greatly in the past six years.”
Clemente is optimistic that the country is on “a very good ground for the future,” stressing that arrivals target of 10 million “is achievable if we have the capacity in place,” suggesting a pressing need to address infrastructure gaps as soon as possible.
Also in the meeting, Tourism Assistant Secretary Rolando Cañizal, on behalf of Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., reported on Philippine tourism’s improvements in competitiveness and strategic direction.
He said that tourism currently provides a 7.5-percent share of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and that it is the fifth largest industry in the country today, and one of the fastest-growing.
Cañizal said the tourism sector provided livelihood opportunities and decent jobs for 4.98 million Filipinos in 2015, contributing a 12.5-percent share of the total employment in the country.
The DOT assistant secretary said that a National Tourism Development Plan for 2016-2022 is now in the works, with the goals of further strengthening the DOT’s branding campaign and tourism marketing and promotion activities; institutionalizing the tourism coordinating council; enhancing local government units’ capacity on tourism planning and product development; and implementing the star rating system.
The Philtoa general membership meeting was attended by representatives of subsector groups such as the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI); Philippine Airlines (PAL) for the transportation sector; Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) for the outbound sector; Philippines Association of Convention/Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers Inc. (PACEOS) from the MICE sector; MAP for the multi-business sector; and the state-run DOT.