October 03, 2023
Makati City, Philippines — In a luncheon meeting hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), key stakeholders from the tourism industry came together to underline the vital need for enhanced collaboration. This unity aims to further strengthen the sector's pivotal role in nation-building and economic growth.
During his opening remarks, ECCP President Paulo Duarte lauded the local tourism industry’s efforts to reach pre-pandemic figures in terms of foreign arrivals.
“We are moving full steam ahead,” emphasized Mr. Duarte. “Very recent reports show that the Philippines has achieved a milestone by surpassing two million tourist visitor arrivals as early as May 2023. This figure exceeded the 2022 target of 1.7 million foreign visitors.”
However, he also emphasized the importance of acknowledging the challenges on the horizon.
“The Philippines, while making significant strides, must continue to further improve its global standing in terms of travel and tourism competitiveness,” said Duarte. “This serves as a call to action to do more, innovate further, and collaborate closely.”
In her recorded message, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Frasco underscored the agency's unwavering commitment to nurturing an enabling environment for the tourism industry. She elaborated on this commitment in the context of the National Tourism Development Plan for 2023 to 2028, recently approved by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The plan's three central pillars of connectivity, convenience, and equality are poised to propel the Philippines into a competitive position among its Asian counterparts.
“The aim is to bring the country forward towards competing shoulder to shoulder with our Asian neighbors and at the same time, improving the marketability of our existing sites, products and services,” said Secretary Frasco.
Moreover, Hon. Shereen Gail Yu-Pamintuan, Undersecretary for Finance and Administration at the Department of Tourism, shared invaluable insights into the department's recent achievements, ongoing initiatives, and current business prospects.
According to Usec. Pamintuan, the Philippines has registered 2.65 million foreign tourist arrivals, exceeding the initial target of 1.7 million in 2022 by 65%. Meanwhile, as of September 19, the agency has recorded 3.87 million inbound arrivals, meeting 80.7% of the 4.8 million target in 2023.
The agency has also been meeting with major airline players to discuss plans to increase air traffic and decongest Manila International Airport, as well as to provide convenience to travelers, especially in North and Central Luzon.
“We have synergies with all our airline industry players to make sure there is an increased frequency in routes, flights, and number of seats in many of our airports across the country,” said the Undersecretary.
She also added that the agency is in close coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in regard to their ‘wishlist’ for new tourism roads. Further, 5 billion worth of new trips or new tourism road projects across the Philippines are now ready for implementation.
To provide connectivity, the DOT has also partnered with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to establish internet connectivity to 94 tourist destinations. As of August 30, more than 47 sites have already been placed.
“The journey ahead is not one we can undertake alone,” said Usec. Paminutan. “We fully understand that this is a collaborative effort where the government and the private sector join hands in pursuit of a shared vision.”
The luncheon meeting also assembled a distinguished panel of experts to delve into critical facets of the tourism industry. Mr. Samuel David, Country Manager for the Philippines at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), offered insights from the aviation sector. He emphasized the importance of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in achieving a zero carbon footprint and aligning with global climate ambitions.
“When you think of the aviation industry contributing to about 33% of the global carbon footprint, I think that airlines have a part in the overall narrative to bring cooler temperatures globally," said David. "We encourage the government to develop policies to encourage the availability and the use of SAF, through incentives, for example. That is what’s going to drive the airline industry into net-zero carbon by 2050.”
Atty. Cenelyn Manguilimotan-Dalnay, Chief Operating Officer at Parklane Hotels and Resorts, contributed her expertise from the hospitality sector. She highlighted the significance of the DOT’s NTDP 2023–2028 in promoting sustainable tourism development in the country and diversifying tourism offerings.
“By diversifying its offering beyond the well-known tourist spots, the Philippines aims to attract a wider range of visitors and distribute the benefits of tourism more evenly across the country. This approach is particularly important in promoting inclusive growth as it can create employment and income opportunities in rural and less visited areas,” noted Atty. Manguilimotan-Dalnay.
The DOT Luncheon Meeting was organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, in partnership with Parkway Corporate Center and Great Travel Philippines, on 20 September 2023 at Dusit Thani Manila.
Organized yearly, the event is a crucial step in fostering collaboration and dialogue for the advancement of Philippine tourism within the European-Philippine business community.