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Aquino ups domestic tourism target to 56.1M

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03:09 AM February 21st, 2013

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By: Michael Lim Ubac, February 21st, 2013 03:09 AM

PROPERTY TYCOON AND THE PRESIDENT Megaworld Corp. chairman Andrew Tan briefs President Aquino on the Mactan Newtown at the launch of the property firm’s project in Cebu. The real estate tycoon shows the President the Mactan Newtown scale model during the grand launch at the Mactan Newtown Rotonda in Mactan, Lapu-lapu City, on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. MALACAÑANG PHOTO BUREAU

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines—President Aquino has raised the domestic tourism target for 2016 to 56.1 million travelers from the original target of 35.5 million.

Aquino on Wednesday announced the new goal at the inauguration of property developer Megaworld’s new project, “The Mactan Newtown,” here.

“Our revisions are a result of very good news I received from Tourism Secretary [Ramon] Jimenez, which I am really excited to share with you,” Aquino said.

In 2011, the government recorded 37.5 million domestic travelers, he said.

“Just to put this number into perspective, this already surpassed our original 2016 target of 35.5 million domestic travelers. Given this very positive growth in domestic travel, Secretary Jimenez and the [Department of Tourism] has raised the 2016 domestic tourism target to 56.1 million travelers,” he said.

But Aquino did not say how the government is tracking Filipino tourists, or whether the figures are based solely on plane ticket sales, or other modes of transportation such as ferries and buses.

“By then (2016), we expect that we will need more than 37,000 additional rooms in our destination clusters, which includes Cebu,” Aquino said.

Megaworld’s P20-billion Mactan project, which covers 20 hectares of prime property, is a mixed-use special economic zone, and thus enjoys tax incentives and holidays for investors.

“For example, part of this complex will include a hotel, which will help us provide the rooms to reach our revised target for domestic and international tourists,” Aquino said.

Missed target

Megaworld chairman Andrew Tan said: “In the next five to seven years, we are investing P20 billion in this township to build luxury residential condominiums, office towers, a world-class lifestyle mall, our very own Richmonde Hotel and, soon, a sports and leisure facility.”

Just two weeks ago, the President admitted in Dipolog City that the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China had taken its toll on the country’s tourism industry.

The Department of Tourism’s failure to meet its target of 4.6 million tourist arrivals last year was blamed on the tensions between the two countries over rival claims to territory in the West Philippine Sea.

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