Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said the Philippines should aim for a higher ASEAN and world ranking in tourism services.
Speaking at the CBM 2022 Go Explore Cebu: Tourism Summit, Secretary Frasco noted that presently, the Philippine ranks sixth in the ASEAN and 75th in the world in terms of tourism services.
“But considering the beauty and quality of our national offerings as well as the talent of our people, we’re not satisfied with repeating our number 6 position in the ASEAN (region) and number 75 in the world. We want to our standing to far exceed its present state,” Frasco said.
After she assumed office, the Secretary said that the Department of Tourism (DOT) immediately conducted ‘due diligence as to what exactly are the hurdles and challenges faced by the tourism industry’ and to determine how these can be overcome.
The DOT has identified the major challenges that are hampering the full development and recovery of the tourism industry, Garcia disclosed. These are the limited gateway access, lack of tourism infrastructure, inadequate health and safety facilities and the significant economic decline within the industry.
“With the guidance and vision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Department of Tourism is firmly set to address these challenges and work towards boosting an industry into becoming one of the economic drivers in the administration and to claiming a primary place in ASEAN and the global community of nations,” she told the tourism summit participants.
The DOT has identified seven objectives to be pursued in the next years in order to address the challenges faced by the tourism industry and to improve the country’s standing, Frasco said.
The objectives include the improvement of tourism infrastructure and accessibility; undertake cohesive and comprehensive digitalization; enhancement of the overall tourist experience and ensure equalization of tourism development and promotion; diversification of tourism portfolio and promote multi-dimensional tourism; introduction of efforts to maximize domestic tourism; and the strengthening of tourism governance through strong collaboration with local government units and stakeholders.
To meet the seven objectives, the DOT will focus on three main strategies – connectivity, convenience and equality, the tourism secretary said.
Connectivity aims to ensure that the country’s tourism destinations are accessible to improve transportation networks at affordable travel costs through proactive and aggressive infrastructure development that provides quality access to roads, bridges, water systems and various methods of transportation for land, sea and air.
By doing so, tourists will enjoy a convenient much better tourism experience for foreign and domestic travelers with standardized travel protocols, Frasco pointed out.
Also, she said, the DOT will reach out to the Department of Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Quarantine to ensure that entry protocols and requirements are streamlined, liberalized and updates readily available for tourists.
The tourism secretary also noted that the tourism industry can take comfort from the President’s assurance that lockdown will no longer be implemented.
The DOT will also focus on the safety of tourists in tourist destinations through the establishment of tourist service centers and improvement of medical facilities and health services, especially remote destinations, she stressed.
In Cebu, the DOT will be setting up four 300-sq.m. tourist facility. “I am very happy to report to you that this year, we will already be breaking ground here in Cebu for four tourist rest areas from the north to the south to cater to all our tour operators who traverse our province and municipalities of Cebu,” Frasco said.
The DOT is also reviewing the accreditation requirements of tourist establishments to address gaps and incorporate emerging tourism standards to cater to the needs of modern travelers.
She then noted the DOT also intend to anchor all efforts on the Filipino brand and will offer incentives to establishments who will support anything Filipino in their establishments.
In her closing remarks, Kate Dychangco-Anzani disclosed that the summit attendance far exceeded their expectations. The CCCI projected around 150 participants but the summit has over 300 participants.
Ms. Anzani also noted that during the tourism summit, participants learned that the country’s tourism stakeholders need to work together to move forward and achieve goals.
The tourism summit is among the activities of the Cebu Business Month, an annual event of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This one-day summit gathered key persons and various stakeholders in the tourism industry who shared their insights and expertise in the tourism industry.