The Philippine Star : Marcos Jr. vows to prioritize tourism sector

23 April 2022

By Edu Punay | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Leading presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is looking to boost the tourism industry as part of the country's pandemic recovery.

In a statement, Marcos said he plans to redirect the focus of the Department of Tourism's roadmap to enable the sector contribute more heavily to economic outlook.

"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.

For Marcos, the DOT can directly manage tourism destinations not simply as marketing agents for the country but to determine their social and economic impact on their localities and to the greater economy.

The DOT's National Tourism Development Plan 2016 to 2022 promotes safe, fun, and competitive tourism; pursues sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism; and strengthens governance and destination management.

The DOT has also prepared a "Tourism Response and Recovery Plan" which aims to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the industry.

Marcos, 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.

He also plans to complement the agency's efforts by improving its website design and adding new features such as destination promotion through 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.

He said the DOT must also provide more incentives and training for 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.

The Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard bearer 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.

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.

Marcos bared his plans for the tourism sector after the World Travel Tourism Council (WTTC), a global organization of tourism stakeholders and investors, called on governments to reopen their countries' borders and economies to help the tourism sector and the world economy in general recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the latest WTTC Economic Impact Report, travel and tourism in the country has recovered 1.3 million jobs and generated $41 billion for 2021.

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.