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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Banking on revitalized tourism

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“The Philippine experience, as the alluring Secretary Frasco says, should be one of discovery of the Filipino people’s diverse and proud heritage.”

The Philippines is endowed with countless natural wonders and cultural heritage sites in that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos believes the tourism industry can contribute significantly as a key economic driver in the country’s post-pandemic recovery efforts.

PBBM addressed the Philippine Tourism Industry Convergence Reception in Pasay City on Monday.

I share the enthusiasm of the President and Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco that domestic and international tourism will generate more jobs in the area of travel and tour businesses, which were hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

With the lifting of travel restrictions, the Philippines beckons to the world to come and visit our refreshed many, many an island paradise.

Boracay, Palawan, and Cebu islands have consistently received international recognition as among the world’s best tourist destinations, particularly in the “sun and beach” itinerary.

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Thousands of visitors flock to the white sands and clear waters of Boracay, thanks to the government’s multi-billion peso island rehabilitation which began in 2018.

Palawan’s mind-boggling natural beauty has attracted both local and foreign visitors who can afford the costs of island-hopping and accommodations. The Calauit island Safari Tour has also attracted more tourists to Busuanga, Palawan.

Cebu Province offers a variety of tourist attractions such as five-star beach resorts, diving and water sports, whale-shark watching, and the most spectacular Sinulog and other traditional festivities, not to mention the mouth-watering pork lechon and other delicacies.

The pristine waters of Camiguin, Bohol, Siargao islands, and many more have world-class sites for water sports, diving, underwater photography, and eco-park adventures.

Camiguin’s unspoiled greenery, waterfalls, and white sandbars; Bohol’s diverse natural wonders like the tarsier sanctuary; and Siargao’s renowned Cloud-9 surfing haven are truly more fun than anywhere else.

So, there is no reason why we continue to lag behind our Asian neighbors, like Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam in tourism arrivals although the figures have grown gradually.

I agree with PBBM’s view that the country’s tourist destinations must be made more accessible by improving our “gateways” to welcome international visitors.

This means the smaller airports must be upgraded to world standards to accommodate direct flights from major travel hubs abroad, thereby improving “connectivity” to our tourist destinations.

In my humble opinion, the Department of Trade and Industry should be involved not only in promoting our native products but also to regulate rates or costs of accommodations, food catering and transport services.

I understand our entrepreneurs, both big and small, want to recover the huge losses incurred during the lockdowns in the past two years but we should be reasonable in charging fees for tourist services.

Keeping prices and fees on various tourist services should be part and parcel of Filipino hospitality.

After all, PBBM was right on the money when he said the Filipino people are our best assets in the tourism industry or any sector of the economy for that matter.

The Philippine experience, as the alluring Secretary Frasco says, should be one of discovery of the Filipino people’s diverse and proud heritage.

We are hoping our tourist sites’ environmental protection, conservation and preservation of cultural sites will be sustained for the future generations.

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