IN A JUNE 2019 Facebook post, Ateneo School of Government Dean Dr. Ronald Mendoza suggested a very simple yet compelling idea for boosting the inclusiveness of our economy.
Dean Ron wrote, “In your hotel rooms, it would be nice to find indigenously produced soap, Liliw-produced slippers, and chocolates from Davao.”
He explained that this was an inclusive way for improving dramatically the products of our Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through feedback, partnership and access to a large, and predictable foreign tourist market.
Apparently, this has already been done elsewhere. In Bali, the provincial administration issued a regulation requiring the use of local agricultural products in all hotels, restaurants, and catering services on the island, according to the Jakarta Post. The regulation was enacted in December last year and includes provisions for groceries to stock their aisles with local produce and products. It even has guidelines for proper pricing, so that farmers would stand to make a profit.
Tourism continues to be on the rise, here in the Philippines. According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), we had 7.1 million come to our shores, last year — up from the 5.6 million who arrived in 2014. In the first six months of this year alone, we’ve already welcomed 4.8 million.
arrival growth expanding at such a steady pace, we now have an opportunity to
promote Philippine-made or “Tatak Pinoy” products. We can start right where
many tourists stay: in hotels. Providing them essential amenities that are
locally made such as toiletries and comfort accessories like slippers, soap,
and shampoos can be the first step.
Hotels and other major tourism-related businesses could be incentivized to prioritize local products for their establishments. Local suppliers and MSMEs would be given access — albeit in a limited scale — to foreign customers, who can provide steady demand for their products. Hopefully, a virtuous cycle is created where our MSMEs are motivated to produce more and better products, in turn adding more value to the country’s tourism offerings.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) could also step in with their Negosyo Centers and provide business information, registration and advisory services, as well as monitoring and evaluation. As of 2018, some 1,061 Negosyo Centers have been opened nationwide, with many hopefully in the proximity of our tourism hotspots and communities. With the proper interface between DTI and DOT, MSME development programs can maximize the growth of our tourism-based businesses.
Hotels could also set up GoLokal! stores and One Town One Product (OTOP) Philippines hubs. GoLokal! stores are a DTI initiative that showcase high quality, innovative products from local producers, while OTOP Philippines hubs sell souvenirs and pasalubong items sourced from different parts of the country. Both programs dovetail into the idea of creating business opportunities that use the Philippine tourism experience as a platform. What more if the very objects within hotel rooms reflect this philosophy? These GoLokal! and OTOP stores should also be present in all our airports, considering the latter are our gateways to the rest of the world.
According to the DOT, the average daily expenditure for tourists has now reached about US$120, and they usually stay for 9 nights. That’s nearly 30 percent more money spent compared to last year, and roughly 2 percent longer. Some of that could definitely be channeled to our MSMEs and their products.
These ideas are all part of the organic philosophy embodied by our “Tatak Pinoy (Made in the Philippines)” initiative. If we apply serious effort into promoting Philippine products and services, we multiply the chances of bringing more Filipino families out of poverty.
Applying that to our tourism destinations, including hotels, means no opportunity is wasted to develop local entrepreneurs and their products and services. We can start with a well-made set of Filipino slippers and toiletries in every tourist’s hotel room.
Sen. Sonny Angara has been in public service for 15 years — nine years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and six as Senator. He has authored and sponsored more than 200 laws. He recently won another term in the Senate. (Email: [email protected]| Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara)/PN