Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco says the ascendance of tourism as among the top drivers of economic development, ranking second for the first 6 months of 2023 is a result of the Marcos Administration’s prioritization of the industry, noting its vital contribution to the country’s progress.

Government economic data reveals that from January to June 2023, the rebound of tourism in growth areas emerged as the second driver of economic development in the country.

The number one driver of growth is the registered high employment rate since the start of the year, followed by the resurgence of tourism, increase in investment registration activities, and students coming back to school.

Speaking before some 300 members of the PHILTOA’s 4th General Membership Meeting held at the Crimson Hotel in Alabang, Muntinlupa on Thursday (10 Aug), Secretary Frasco reiterated the pro-tourism policies implemented by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. provided the impetus needed to reinvigorate the industry badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Philippine tourism is back and it’s back with a vengeance. The robust growth and recovery of Philippine tourism is consistent with what we have seen since the start of the Marcos administration,” said Secretary Frasco in her extemporaneous keynote address.

“The effort of our President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos, Jr. at the very beginning, was to send the unequivocal message that tourism is a priority. And therefore, he mobilized the entire national government to come together to assist the Department of Tourism to open up the Philippines once again to travel,” the tourism chief added.

Frasco cited the efforts of the government to ease pandemic restrictions such as the lifting of the mandatory mask mandate, the use of the One Health Pass, the approval of e-visa for select tourism source markets, the reintroduction of the Philippines’ cultural and natural assets, the directive to provide tax refund to foreign visitors which is now in the process of legislation, and recently, the Presidential Proclamation 297 that lifted the state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines, among others, which according to Frasco, greatly helped in mobilizing our tourists to come into and go around the country.

As of August 10, the DOT has recorded 3.360 million foreign visitor arrivals raking in some Php 285 billion in tourism revenues.

“Because our President prioritized tourism and travel, this has also led to various convergences between the Department of Tourism and our fellow government agencies. The focus of the department has not been on the singular aspect of promotions alone, but rather to ask the difficult questions and to come up with solutions to the essential pillars of tourism to give our country a fighting chance of being competitive in the ASEAN region,” Frasco added

Meanwhile, Philippine Statistics Authority data shows an increase of 612 thousand in the Accommodation and Food Services sector looking at the difference between the 1.66 million employed in the sector in June 2022 with that of the 2.27 million as of June 2023.

According to Frasco, the steady increase in the number of tourism labor force supports a strong semblance of stability and progress in the industry as economic resurgence resonates with the manpower that builds up the tourism sector.

She likewise expressed her appreciation for the tourism sector’s achievement, stating, “The tourism industry’s ascent as among the top drivers of economic development, and the emergence of the accommodation sector, a major component of the tourism industry among the Top five major industries with the largest increase in employment is a testament to the collaborative efforts of our government, local communities, and stakeholders. Our commitment to expanding the horizons of Philippine tourism to highlight our best assets including our culture, heritage, and identity, improvement of infrastructure, digitalization and connectivity, spreading equal opportunities for tourism development to the countryside, introduction of tourism innovations, focus on sustainable tourism practices, combined with the sheer beauty and diversity of our nation, has resonated with both the international and domestic travelers.”

“With the remarkable progress achieved by the tourism sector in the first half of 2023, the Department of Tourism remains steadfast in its pursuit of continued tourism development and excellent performance in both the domestic and international arrival sectors. As the second half of the year unfolds, the department is focused on further enhancing tourism offerings, fostering partnerships, expanding tourism opportunities, and continuing to showcase all the reasons to love the Philippines as a premier destination for travelers seeking authentic and meaningful experiences,” Secretary Frasco said.

(Source: Bacolod City Public Information Office)

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