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Bacolod City, PhilippinesSaturday, October 26, 2013
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Tourism – a group effort

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Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
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The ambitious target of Philippine tourism to get 10 million visitors per year from 2016 is going to be a tough one to meet if you consider that the number of visitors expected this year is just five million.

Failing to double the present number of  tourist arrivals in just two years could open the  Department of Tourism to perceptions that it has not been doing its job. But it deserves credit for having been able to raise our tourism arrivals consistently by around 11 percent  each  year since 2010. If it is to hit the lofty target it gave itself at the start of the term of President Aquino, tourism arrivals will have to grow a whopping 26 percent every year in the run up to 2016.

If our country, somehow, manages to hit that tourism target, it would create some seven million jobs and contribute 12 percent of economic output, compared to its current contribution of three million jobs and seven percent economic output.

Despite our numerous natural attractions, the friendliness of Filipinos, and our fluency in English, our country remains the laggard in the region when it comes to tourism arrivals and earnings. It would be safe to say that we trump Malaysia on all three counts, but the ASEAN leader in tourism had almost 25 million arrivals in 2011, compared to our almost 4 million. Thailand’s 19 million visitors and Singapore’s 13 million tourists for that same year, drives home the point that there is a lot more to be done in terms of marketing, with proportional investments and improvements in tourism-centric conveniences, safety and security if we are to catch up.

The Department of Tourism cannot do this alone. It needs the help and cooperation of all the other government agencies such as the Department of Transportation and Communications, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Public Works and Highways. The efforts of the DOT to promote our country as an attractive tourism destination will all go to waste if the DILG fails to protect tourists from being robbed or kidnapped, if the DPWH cannot provide easy access to our natural treasures in remote locations, and certainly not while the DOTC continues to take its sweet time in rehabilitating the embarrassingly outdated NAIA terminal 1 that serves as the main gateway for tourists into the Philippines.

There is no doubt that the Department of Tourism understands the seriousness of its tourism target for 2016. Its job would be made a lot easier if the other government agencies involved put their backs into the effort as well.*

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