The Department of Tourism (DOT) is extremely confident the tourism sector would maintain its high growth rate, despite economic and political stress in relation to mainland China.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito C. Bengzon Jr. said the year started with the hosting of the Asean Tourism Forum, the largest and most important tourism gathering in Southeast Asia.
“It was attended by 2,500 delegates, not only from the 10-member nation Asean but from other parts of the globe. We had 450 foreign buyers, 800 sellers, domestic and regional delegates from media and national governments,” Bengzon said during the formal launching of Singapore Airlines (SIA) special travelers promotion in partnership with the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and the DOT.
Next month, the Philippines will play host to Roots Asia, the largest aviation gathering in Asia.
“We are quite confident, to meet our target of six million arrivals and revenues of P300-billion this year, especially with the local, foreign airlines getting to be more aggressive, mounting more flight, introducing more services and more destinations,” he added.
The tourism department is also allocating P24 billion this year for its convergence program with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to ensure access roads to major tourist destinations are constructed and properly maintained.
Bengzon shrugged aside concerns that the China’s economic slowdown will hinter its tourists from visiting the Philippines and the rest of Asia.
The tourism industry reported a 10-percent overall growth rate last year. It reported 5.35-million arrivals represents a growth rate of almost 11 percent, which is higher than the Asian average of five percent, and the global average of 4.5 percent.
The three growth drivers of the industry are better air access, new accommodation facilities and strengthened marketing and promotion strategies.
Tourism accounts for almost eight percent of the country’s gross domestic product and directly employs almost five million Filipinos.
Broader outlook of the Asian Development Bank and the Organization of Economic and Cultural Development had a more modest outlook of six percent growth rate for Philippine tourism.
The OECD forecast Vietnam’s tourism growth rate would be 5.9 percent, Indonesia 5.2 percent, Malaysia 4.6 percent and Thailand 3.1 percent.