President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday (July 25) emphasized the pivotal role of tourism as he bared his directions for the industry during the early part of his first State of the Nation Address (SONA). Citing his plans for the country’s tourism in the first few minutes of his SONA, just right after expounding on the economy and agriculture, the President expressed optimism for the sector noting that “Tourism is not only an important economic development tool but the abundance of opportunities that the sector creates in terms of regular employment and even job creation at the grassroots level is undeniable.”
Basic improvements to roads, airports
To boost the country’s tourism industry, President Marcos Jr. has directed the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to jointly implement a program that would introduce basic infrastructure developments that will increase the convenience of travelers when going around the Philippines.
“To boost our tourism industry, we will first and foremost make basic developments such as road improvements for easier access to tourism spots. We will also upgrade our airports and create more international airports to help decongest the bottleneck at the Manila International Airport,” President Marcos said.
These improvements, the President said, will be brought to remote areas to help promote undiscovered tourist spots in the country.
Enhanced ‘Filipino’ brand in tourism
In terms of promoting the country’s tourism, President Marcos expressed the need to bank on an enhanced Filipino brand.
“They say, each brand has a story. As for the Filipino brand, ours is deeply rooted in our rich cultural heritage and the tourism sector plays an invaluable role in the promotion of the Filipino brand,” President Marcos Jr. said as he opened his address on tourism.
“To foster the Filipino brand is to spark our sense of pride and reaffirm our strong sense of identity. It is time to welcome the rest of the world with an enhanced Filipino brand that is unique, attractive, and creative,” he explained.
Transforming The Philippines into a Tourism Powerhouse
DOT Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco expressed her gratitude towards President Marcos for his mention of tourism as one of the core programs for the economic development of the country under his term, and has accepted the challenge to elevate the industry to become a powerhouse in Asia and in the world.
“With no less than The President of the Philippines rallying for the recovery of the Philippines’ tourism industry, together, the national government, the local government units, the private stakeholders, the industry players, and most importantly, the Filipino people that drive this industry forward amid various challenges- we will propel the Philippines to exceed its current global standing and tourist arrival numbers, and transform it into a tourism powerhouse in Asia,” Secretary Frasco remarked.
The Secretary likewise conformed with the President’s assertion as regards the undeniable strength, resilience, and creativity of the Filipino that are truly world-class.
“Indeed, the Filipino identity and strength of spirit are unlike any other in the world. With the President’s vision, we hope to be able to not only reclaim our standing on the global stage but to exceed it as that is the birthright of every Filipino,” she enthused.
The DOT chief had earlier announced the priorities of the Department, echoing the President’s directives such as the improvement of tourism infrastructure and accessibility; enhancement of overall tourist experience through connectivity, convenience, equality of promotion and development of tourist destinations across the country; and uplifting the quality of products and services to reflect a distinct Filipino brand.
“The President’s pronouncements will bring much-needed hope to all the tourism stakeholders that have suffered gravely because of the pandemic and various calamities. I’m very happy to note that the President’s vision is very clear as far as setting a strong foundation for the tourism industry by strengthening tourism infrastructure and gateway access, as well as giving equal opportunities to tourist destinations across the country,” the tourism chief enthused.
To fulfill the President’s directives for the industry, Secretary Frasco vowed to continue the multi-dimensional and shared tourism governance approach in implementing the DOT’s plans and programs, sharing the importance of involving stakeholders–particularly those at the local level–in coming up with effective strategies to address industry barriers.
In the first month of her role as the head of the DOT, Secretary Frasco has successfully launched her “listening tours” across the country, initiating meetings with the various regional offices and attached agencies of the Department across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, as well as public and private sector stakeholders in order to better connect and understand the needs and concerns of the industry, and come up with workable solutions in the short, medium, and long term, towards the objective of strengthening the foundation for the industry and enhancing the overall tourist experience.
Featured photo taken from https://www.facebook.com/BongbongMarcos