THE House of Representatives has designated Filipino boxing icon Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao as the official endorser of the Department of Tourism in its campaign to make the country a premier tourist destination.
The House leadership led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez will soon adopt the proposal contained in a committee report approved by the House committee on transportation during its hearing on the DOT’s plans and programs for 2017.
The Lower House is expected to adopt the proposal before Congress adjourns for a one-month Christmas break starting Dec. 16.
1-PACMAN Rep. Enrico Pineda proposed that the DOT designate Pacquiao as the agency’s spokesperson because of the boxing champion’s tremendous popularity here and abroad.
“Senator Pacquiao’s international stature is a big boost to the tourism industry of the country. His endorsement would create a lot of impact, especially in the social media,” said Pineda.
Pineda further said the senator from Sarangani might lend his services to the DOT for free.
Supporting Pineda’s proposal, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales moved to make the boxing champ the official DOT endorser.
The committee chaired by Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez unanimously approved Gonzales’ motion.
Also during the hearing, officials of the DOT and its attached agencies namely, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority and the Tourism Promotions Board briefed House members on the state of the country’s tourism industry and their tourism plans and programs.
Torres-Gomez said the committee takes cognizance of the issues and concerns that are vital to the promotion and development of the country’s tourism industry.
Torres-Gomez cited there are more than 40 House bills filed seeking to declare the various areas in the country as tourism zones and destinations.
“These are very important to House members for the development of local tourism in their respective districts. We will certainly take immediate action on these measures,” said Torres-Gomez.
She said among the measures of national importanceare bills seeking better assistance, services, and protection to international tourists visiting the country; granting travel tax discount or exemption to groups such as senior citizens, persons with disabilities, official country representatives to international sports events, academic conferences, and beauty pageants; and seeking the imposition of environmental fee or green fee for the preservation, conservation, development, and protection of the country’s national heritage sites and treasures.
Torres-Gomez urged committee members to look into the extent of the implementation of laws passed by Congress pertinent to the tourism industry. She said another concern of the committee in its next hearing is the status of the development of roads and access to tourism sites.