June 25, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

PBBM directs gov’t agencies to consolidate PH tourism services to ensure seamless, pleasant travel for tourists

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has directed government agencies to consolidate the country’s tourism system to make the Philippines competitive in the global tourism market.

The President made the directive after meeting with members of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) Tourism Sector in Malacañang on Thursday to discuss their recommendations to attract more tourists.

The President cited Thailand’s tourism industry, which he said, has a more organized structure for tourism requirements such as hotel and flight booking, arranging for a driver and tour guide among others, for the convenience of tourists.

Citing a friend who had opted to go Thailand instead of the Philippines, the President noted that when tourists go to Thailand, all their needs are being taken care of by their service providers unlike in the country.

“I was talking to a friend and he said I am going to Thailand and I said why go to Thailand, go to the Philippines where it’s nicer, cheaper. But he said in the Philippines [I book] the hotel, I have to be the one to arrange for my driver. I have to be the one to arrange my tour guide, and if I want to go out of town, and then I pay each step of the way,” he said during the meeting.

“So, there’s the thing. I guess, you know, consolidate the system. So that it’s because when you’re on vacation, you just want to stay at the beach and have a nice time. So, I think it’s the facilities that we have to develop,” the President added.

He also directed the Department of Tourism to look into the potential of sports development to attract tourists, as well as showcase the country’s cuisines.

“The one area that I think is easy is sports development because they (athletes) are here, we just have to make the facilities better. Also food tourism has huge potential but it is largely untapped, there’s a lot of room to improve,” he said.

The PSAC, headed by Sabin Aboitiz of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc., recommended that the country embark on a campaign to showcase its native cuisines as well as host major sporting events to attract more tourists citing the successful tourism efforts in India, China, Singapore and Thailand.

Other PSAC members present were Lance Gokongwei of JG Summit Holdings Inc., Lucio Tan III of LT Group, Rene Limcaoco of Hertz Philippines and Lourdes Josephine Gotianun-Yap of Filinvest Development Corporation.

During Thursday’s meeting, PSAC made several recommendations to make the Philippines more competitive in the tourism sector, particularly by focusing on ensuring that tourists “visit, stay, spend money and return” to the country.

One of the measures presented was easing visa access particularly for tourists like what is being done in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The advisory body recommended to temporarily offer a 30-day visa-free entry for tourists while e-visa process streamlining is ongoing, as well as explore the idea of tapping the services of a third-party service provider to handle the eVisa system.

Another PSAC recommendation was the implementation of improvements in airport connectivity and capacity to help drive international demand, which means accelerating public private partnership (PPP) of regional airports to increase international airport connectivity and capacity for international airlines and routes.

Other critical initiatives cited include matching hotel supply of neighboring countries through better incentives such as VAT refund scheme for tourists, PSAC said.

Tourist arrivals in the Philippines reached over 5.4 million last year, with tourism receipts equivalent to P482.54 billion.

More than 1.4 million airline seats were booked, an 80-percent recovery of pre-COVID incoming seat capacity, recent data show.