Press Release
November 23, 2016

(As Read)
November 23, 2016
Manila Diamond Hotel

The DOT Family, led by Honorable Wanda Corazon Teo, NEDA Director Nerissa T. Esguerra, Rosanna Tuazon Forres - President Tourism Congress Philippines, other government officials, tourism industry stakeholders and guests.

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat!

The appreciation of our islands and exposure by global tourism organizations have continuously driven more and more tourists to experience and value our country's beauty and culture every year.

Proof is the international recognition and positive reviews that our islands have received in the past few years: Palawan, Boracay, and Cebu made it to the New York-based Travel + Leisure's World's Best Islands list this year. Palawan was also number one on the list in 2013. Conde Nast Traveler, another travel magazine, named them among the Top 20 Best Islands in the World for 2016.

But we should not be complacent. For the country to attract its projected 12 million tourists by 2022, there are so many things to work on if we want to unlock the promise of tourism. We should go on to improve year by year what we can offer to the world to bring more travellers to our shores. Congress, through its power of legislation and the purse, will surely do its part.

Bilang chairperson ng Senate Tourism Committee, kaisa po ninyo ako sa hangaring mapaunlad pa ang industriya ng turismo sa ating bansa. Kinikilala ko po na malaki ang potensyal ng turismo upang magbigay ng trabaho at mag-angat sa ating mga kababayan mula sa kahirapan.

I welcome the Department of Tourism's (DOT) effort today to bring all stakeholders to this Tourism Summit, where we can align the National Tourism Development Plan with the AmBisyon 2040. This is a systematic and organized approach for our country to implement a sustainable tourism framework to achieve inclusive national growth. Let me offer my insights and thoughts in consonance with some of the A's of Tourism, which are Attractions, Access, and Accommodations and amenities and the vision of a "Matatag, Maginhawa at Panatag na Buhay" as embodied in AmBisyon Natin 2040. I am also proposing to add Advancement to the A's of Tourism.

Let's go to the First A, which is Attraction.

Tourism depends on the beauty of Nature, as well as our traditions and cultures. We are challenged to protect and preserve our cultural and natural heritage so that future generations can still enjoy and see for themselves what we are enjoying and seeing today - or in other words, sustainable tourism.

We should provide incentives for keepers of our cultural heritage, from ancestral homes and structures to unique ways of life, to maintain and preserve what is theirs. You know, it is dismaying to see heritage structures demolished to give way to other structures just because the present owners do not have the capability to preserve them. Ang mga istrukturang ito ay bahagi ng habi ng lugar, at ang permanenteng pananatili nito ay nagbibigay ng katatagan at nagsisilbing angkla para sa mga susunod na henerasyon.

I also laud and encourage efforts to train more young people in the skills and techniques of heritage conservation and restoration. We should establish more Escuela Taller de Intramuros in the country to provide a larger team of experts and artisans to help in the conservation and restoration of our numerous heritage sites.

We should also provide more avenues and spaces for cultural workers, agencies and organizations to sustain, to educate, and to propagate their learnings and contributions. Culture can drive tourism by showcasing our own unique ways of life, just like what Apo Whang-od is now doing for tattoo enthusiasts all over the world. This way, we can prevent the erosion of our native culture by looking back at our roots and ensuring the passing of the skills and traditions to the younger generation.

The DOT and its attached agencies such as the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) should partner with local government units to develop and improve tourist destinations while the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should help in the protection of the environment as well as the sustainable consumption of natural resources. The academe and private sector can also help in the planning and development of these sites and the necessary infrastructure.

Now, we go to the second A, Access.

There is a need to improve our infrastructure, especially our airports, seaports and roads. These are the gateways to our tourism sites and activities. Ang mga pagpapabuting ito ay magdudulot ng maginhawa at abot-kayang paglalakbay ng mga turista. We should also develop more alternative entrances to our country by making more regional and provincial airports capable of handling night flights to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and to encourage the growth of accommodations in those areas.

Seaports should also be modernized and revitalized for the country to become one of the top cruise destinations. Cruise ships provide another avenue for tourists to come to our shores, especially with our many beaches and coves.

Ang pangatlong A po ay Accommodation.

Sa pagtatapos ng isang araw ng paglalakbay, napakasarap na matulog sa isang maaliwalas at maginhawang tulugan. There is a need to put up more rooms and hotels as there are many places already literally bursting to the seams accommodating the influx of tourists. It is high time that we promote the concept of bed and breakfast, and other specialty inns in the whole country. This concept has been proven in places like Sagada and Batanes. To spread the idea, we need to train the community to be entrepreneurs and professional innkeepers. This way, we can encourage the deeper interaction of tourists with the community, as well as maintain the charm and way of life of the area.

I would also like to propose another A in the As of Tourism, which is Advancement.

Naniniwala rin ako na malaki ang papel ng mga local government units (LGUs) sa pagpapalago ng industriya ng turismo sa ating bansa. The national government must help each LGU come up with its own tourism development plan, which should be in line with the national tourism development plan. The tourism plan should also be incorporated in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) so that tourism sites can be properly identified and protected.

Towns and provinces should not look only for their own interests in the tourism pie but should look at how they can interconnect and relate to each other in terms of tourism development and promotion. Maybe we can see a regional tourism promotion in the coming days.

There is also a need to empower and capacitate our LGUs so that they can identify tourism opportunities from their cultural and natural heritage, and to sustainably develop and operate these. Tourism officers are vital point persons in the planning and execution of tourism plans, and it should be made a regular part of all LGU staff.

For tourism to drive the growth of the grassroots areas, there should be a standardization of training and development of human resources, as well as the promotion of the expansion of the local economy. Standardized regular trainings and seminars should be given by the DOT and its partners not only to our local tourism staff and guides, but also to drivers, policemen, hospitality staff and other frontliners.

To the traveller in search of his personal Eden, or for the explorer looking for new thrills and adventures, or the weary soul seeking relaxation, the Philippines is a tropical paradise: sugary white sand beaches, seas of various shades of blues and greens, Nature carved mountains and hills, World Heritage sites, and hospitable people, to name a few.

Yes, it is definitely Wow, Philippines! Let us raise the fun and experience several notches higher.

Maganda at masayang Pilipinas, maraming salamat sa inyo.

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