DoT aiming for 6.5-M int’l arrivals by 2016
The Department of Tourism (DoT) is gearing up to raise the number of tourists who will sample the Philippines’ “undiscovered treasures and hidden gems” to some 6.5 million international arrivals, and more than 32 million domestic travellers by 2016.
In an interview Sunday on dzIQ 990 AM, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said the DoT was focusing on three strategies to turn the Philippines into a “must experience” destination in Asia.
“We’re playing catch-up with tourism powerhouses like Malaysia, which registered 23 million visitors last year, and Singapore, which had 15 million visitors,” said Lim. “Our target is to hit 6.5 million international arrivals by the end of President Aquino’s term.”
To achieve this target, the DoT is zeroing in on improving “access and connectivity.”
“We’re pushing hard for the rapid expansion of secondary international airports and address traffic bottlenecks at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport,” Lim said.
“We’re strengthening compliance with international safety regulations, adopting policies that will facilitate the expansion of air services and visa-free access in key growth markets,” he added.
Lim said the DoT and the Department of Public Works and Highways were mapping out an infrastructure development program for the secondary international airports and strategic destinations for pleasant and easy transport.
“We’re also working with various government agencies and local government units to develop and market competitive tourist destinations and products, with a goal of having one town, one product,” he said.
This means prioritizing the use of existing infrastructure by facilitating the development of mixed-use tourism complexes and community-based programs in strategic locations all over the country.
Responding to a query from a radio listener, Lim disclosed a plan to make tourism-related investments in the Philippines more attractive.
“We’ve set up a mandatory tourism enterprise accreditation and certification system with simplified business set-up and licensing procedures,” he said.
“And following the direction of President Aquino, we’re encouraging combined public-private sector partnerships to safeguard and preserve natural and cultural sites, and vulnerable groups, such as indigenous peoples, animals or treasures, for posterity.”
Lim said the combined public-private sector efforts include the funding of marketing campaigns to target key-growth areas.
“Our main game plan is to convince, particularly foreign markets, that if they think they’ve seen enough of the Philippines, think again, because we will show them otherwise,” the tourism secretary said.
He said the administration was “committed to a sustained effort to build a new sense of excitement and vigor around our tourism brand to keep it alive and exhilarating, and elicit renewed enthusiasm from both our captive and untapped foreign markets.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.