Tourism can become PHL’s top dollar earner–D.O.T.

January 25, 2016 at 13:20

Tourism can become PHL’s top dollar earner–D.O.T.

by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo | January 20, 2016


FOREIGN and local delegates line up to register at the registration booth for the ongoing Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) hosted by the Philippines. ATF is a cooperative regional effort to promote the Asean region as one tourism destination. The annual event involves all the tourism industry sectors of 10 member-nations of Asean: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The event will be until January 22. ALYSA SALEN

THE country’s tourism sector can easily surpass the contributions of the semiconductor and business-process  outsourcing (BPO) industries with the increase in the number of seats available for flights, as well as an improvement in infrastructure capacity and accommodations.

This was the confident prediction of Arturo P. Boncato Jr., assistant secretary of the Department of Tourism, at the media briefing for the Asean Tourism Forum on Wednesday.

This developed as visitor arrivals to the Philippines reached 5.36 million in 2015, up 11 percent from the 4.83 million in 2014. This was much lower, however, than the 8.2-million visitor-arrivals target for the year.

But tourism receipts, he said, hit $5 billion ($237.5 billion) in 2015, up 3.3 percent from 2014.

“The tourism industry’s significant measure of tourism performance is not the visitor arrivals but the revenues it generates, which stimulate economic activity in the country…. With more economic activities arising from tourism, people directly employed in the tourism industry rose to 4.99 million in 2015. Tourism accounts for one in every 10 jobs in the economy, or 12.7 percent share to total employment, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority,” Boncato said in his media briefing.

He added that the tourism sector now is the “third-largest dollar earner” for the Philippines, after the BPO and semiconductor industries. The BPO sector has set a $25-billion revenue goal for 2016.

“We have all the opportunities; once we increase connectivity, improve access, increase the number of airports, the BPO sector, [yes we can surpass it], semiconductor, yes we can [surpass it]. We just have to increase seats, increase capacity, and that’s the only way we can do it. The way we look at it, the department’s point of view, Philippine tourism can still accommodate growth in the next 12 years,” he stressed.

South Korea remained the top source market for tourists, with a 25-percent share to total inbound traffic. “This market has marked another history as the first market to surpass the 1.3 million arrivals,” Boncato added.

Without specifying the exact numbers, he said other top source markets after South Korea were the United States, Japan, China, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Canada, the UK, Hong Kong and Germany.

“China, Korea and Taiwan reamed robust with double-digit gains,” he said. While the China visitor arrivals have picked up significantly, he admitted that the “Chinese tour groups are still not coming.”

The clampdown by the Beijing government on corruption and lavish lifestyles, plus diplomatic tensions with the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea, have slowed down the arrivals of Chinese tour groups.

Intra-Asean arrivals to the Philippines also helped boost overall visitor arrivals in the country, he said, “registering an annual compounded average growth rate of 9.56 percent from 2008 to 2015.” Among the strong Asean markets are Singapore (181,176 arrivals) and Malaysia (155,814 arrivals).

The growing number of tourists to the country has sparked an increase in accommodations, as well. As of 2014, there were 8,841 “accommodation enterprises,” bringing total room capacity to 202,797 rooms.

“As confidence in the industry continues,” Boncato said, “new investments in tourist destinations continue to pour in. Some of these investments include the Hennann Resort and BE Resort in Bohol, with an accumulated investment of $37.36 million in 2015.”

About 15 new hotels started operating in 2015, providing an additional 1,903 rooms for the tourism industry. These new hotels, costing a total investment of $410 million (P18.7 billion) were endorsed by the DOT to the Board of Investments.

“The industry remains robust with new tourism products in the offing like the 12 Eco-Tourism Packages being developed, to infrastructure projects like the Tagbilaran Tourism Bubble in 2016 and Panglao Airport in 2017,” Boncato said.

To address connectivity and access requirements for the industry, some of the projects include the $83-million uprgrade of the Puerto Princesa International Airport “to support the growing arrivals in this destination. Likewise, the completion of the San Vicente Airport will continue to boost arrivals in the province of Palawan.”

The Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) is currently ongoing in Manila until January 22, with venues at the SMX Convention Center, Philippine International Convention Center  and the Sofitel Philippine Plaza. The ATF also features the Travel Exhibition where foreign buyers and Asean sellers will network to produce tourism packages to boost visitor arrivals in the Asean.

Last year international visitor arrivals to the region reached 102 million.




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