Philippine tourism is back on the map

For many in the rural areas, tourism is their lifeblood. It is one sector that directly creates jobs and boosts the income in the countryside.

Tourism Secretary Christina Agnes Frasco

It generates foreign exchange and gives rise to small entrepreneurs. It disperses wealth and narrows the poverty gap.

Following directive of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to revive the tourism industry, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has outlined seven main objectives that will help stakeholders reclaim the Philippines’ primary standing in the global tourism space.

Despite the recurring COVID-19 surges, the DOT expressed confidence the Philippine will bounce back from the ravages of the pandemic and the many calamities that have struck the country.

“This is line with the vision of the President for the tourism industry to become a major pillar in our country’s national post-pandemic recovery,” says Tourism Secretary Christina Agnes Frasco.

The DOT identified the objectives as follows: improvement of tourism infrastructure and accessibility; cohesive and comprehensive digitalization and connectivity; enhancement of overall tourist experience; equalization of tourism product development and promotion; diversification of portfolio through multidimensional tourism; maximization of domestic tourism; and strengthening governance through collaboration with local government units and stakeholders.

“In our view, it’s also very, very important to ensure that we examine all existing strategies that have been set in place, continue the good programs that have been implemented, and introduce innovations and strong coordination with tourism-enhancing agencies in the national government , to be able to ensure that we build a strong foundation for the tourism industry so that it becomes resilient against any crisis,” says Frasco.

Frasco said the department plans to streamline travel protocols on visitors and review accreditation requirements for businesses.

The department vowed to provide convenient and better tourism experience for both foreign and domestic travelers through standardized travel protocols.

The DOT has reached out to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Bureau of Immigration (BI), and the Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ),to ensure that entry protocols and requirements are streamlined and that updates are easily available to tourist.

“We will also see to it that the quality of our tourist destinations and product offerings meet international standards through rigorous establishment accreditation and product audits. Currently, our Office for Standards Regulation is reviewing our accreditation requirements to address gaps and incorporate emerging tourism standards that cater to the needs of modern travelers,” Frasco said.

To date, the DOT recorded 1.1 million foreign arrivals since the Philippines reopened its borders to international leisure travelers on February of this year.

Sustainable tourism

Frasco stressed the importance of incentivizing sustainable tourism policy implementation.

The DOT plans to offer incentives to private sector entrepreneurs who will implement green policies that give value to the preservation of the environment, as well as introduce measures that promote environmental protection and energy-efficient usage.

“It’s also very, very important to continue to harness the relationship with the private sector, especially in the grassroots, for the adoption of sustainable development not only as a policy and theoretical notion, but rather as a way of life so that eventually, sustainable tourism is not only a matter of government regulation but rather of self-regulation, in that the community takes an active part in the implementation of all of these policies,” she said.

Sustainable development as a concept, according to her, has a tendency to be disconnected to actual implementation on the ground “by the very nature of it being quite theoretical.”

“From my local government experience, it has taught me that it’s very important to be able to translate these theoretical policies into actual implementation. And how we are looking to do that, is to be able to introduce sustainable development policies to a wider sustainable development that looks at economic policy, environmental policy, and social policy,” she said.

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