By Tess Lapuz-Lardizabal | Journal News Online
WITH tourism as one of the sectors badly hit by the Covid19 pandemic, presidential frontrunner Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos is looking at upgrading the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) roadmap to hasten the industry’s recovery and help contribute in the country’s overall economic outlook.
Marcos said the UniTeam’s roadmap aims to redirect the focus of DOT from just being a marketing agent of the country’s tourist spots, but also for it to directly manage tourism destinations to determine the social and economic impacts in their respective localities, and to the country to a larger extent.
“The country is gifted with the most beautiful tourist spots globally, which when harnessed and utilized properly could help fast-track the country’s economic development. It will also help create jobs for the locals in the areas where they are located,” he said.
“The next administration must revitalize the tourism industry and support its further development that will be a big boost for the country as we recover from the pandemic,” he added.
Marcos has always believed that tourism is an effective instrument for economic growth as the industry can generate jobs and help increase the income of local government units.
Based on the latest World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Economic Impact Report, travel and tourism in the country has recovered 1.3 million jobs and generated USD41 billion for 2021.
The DOT’s National Tourism Development Plan 2016- 2022 promotes safe, fun, and competitive tourism; pursues sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism; and strengthens governance and destination management.
DOT has also prepared a “Tourism Response and Recovery Plan” which aims to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the industry.
The Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer said a revitalized version of this plan will help the country further recover from the pandemic and be a blueprint for future crises.
Marcos plans to improve the agency’s efforts by improving its website design and adding new features such as destination promotion thru a price-based strategy, an interactive Philippine map integrated with tourism products and destinations.
It will also include multilingual options; peer evaluation and post-vacation rankings; and promotional videos created by micro-influencers and vloggers.
The website will also have its mobile application or version, including a one-stop feature for all tourism needs.
The government, under the agency, must also provide more incentives and training for DOT tour guides to create more jobs in the industry.
“After seeing how they were heavily affected by the pandemic, the DOT must be ready to assist the tourism workers and ensure job security,” Marcos said.
He added there is also a need to ease travel regulations, especially for returning visitors, to encourage them to revisit the country.
“We need to look into the system again to give our tourists a better experience here in the country as tourism is one of our biggest contributors,” he said.
Based on the data from DOT, the country welcomed more than eight million tourists, and the industry has contributed P2.51 trillion, or nearly 13 percent, to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2019 or before the pandemic hit the country.
With lower alert levels in different provinces, Marcos also encouraged domestic travelers to start visiting tourist attractions and spots in the country.
While still governor of Ilocos Norte some few years back, Marcos pushed to strengthen tourism after seeing how it helped the province’s economic development.