Enhancing tourism

WHEN South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-Man came to Iloilo for the Dinagyang Festival last month, he repeated a promise that he made to President Duterte to facilitate two million tourists from Korea to visit our archipelago this year.


I believe it is, but it is a challenging target since it means over 400,000 Koreans more this year compared with 2018 when almost 1.6 million came.

Korean millennials (those from between 1981 and 1996) are more confident and adventurous than their parents. These young(ish) people make a good target market. Salaries have risen sharply but holidays are short. They have the money but not too much time. Ideally, they need a rapid trouble-free journey to their holiday destination.

We need provincial airports which can handle non-stop flights from Korea (for example Seoul – Incheon)

Last August, Roberto Montelibano, Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry president made a plea for runway expansion to cater to bigger aircraft. Negros Occidental is not going to get its fair share of 400,000 additional Koreans in 2019 if it does not have a better airport.

Department of Tourism (DOT) secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has the target of 8.2 million overseas tourists for 2019.


Yes, in principle.

We need to have a smooth and speedy immigration procedure at ports of entry. CIQ (customs, immigration. Quarantine) facilities need to be available at provincial airports whenever necessary. This means cooperation between DOT and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) but I am confident that the urbane DFA Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr will be helpful.

Last year, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) was excoriated by the Commission on Audit (COA) for failing to implement small but important infrastructure projects at four West Visayas airports (Bacolod-Silay, Iloilo, Caticlan, Kalibo).

DOT is perhaps unique of all government departments in the amount of cooperation it requires from other government instrumentalities to achieve its goals. We hope this cooperation will be forthcoming.

In addition to land-based tourists, the cruise ship industry is expanding rapidly. 28 cruise ships are due to visit Boracay in 2019. From a mercenary point of view, I wonder about the economic impact of those visitors who only stay on the island for a few hours.

The 7.1 million overseas visitors that came to the Philippines last year is a tiny proportion of the total market size of world-wide estimated tourist arrivals of 1.4 billion. This means that the Philippines has a measly 0.5 percent of the market. 99.5 percent go somewhere else!

According to World Bank statistics, our 7.1 million visitors for 2018 compares unfavorably with the following 2016 data:

China 59.27 million, Thailand 32.53m, Malaysia 26.76m, Hong Kong 26.55m, Japan 25.04m, South Korea 17.24m, Singapore 12.91m, Indonesia 11.52m, Vietnam 10.01m, Australia 8.26m.

We can do better.

Even with our comparatively low arrivals, our tourism industry still generates approximately 12 percent of our Gross National Product (GBP).

Tourism can be one of the most important drivers of our economic expansion.

Let’s hope so!/PN


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