DOT plans to raise bar for PH tourism industry

By Analou De Vera

The Department of Tourism (DOT) plans to raise the bar for the country's tourism industry, as it eyes to improve airports and seaports in order to lure more foreign tourists in the Philippines.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo- Puyat said that air connectivity is important given that the country is an archipelago.

New Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN) Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat

Puyat pointed out that 98 percent of the country's tourists enter through airports and only two percent by cruise ships.

"Therefore, air connectivity and airport infrastruction will form part of our priorities for tourism," said the tourism chief.

Last June, President Duterte led the inauguration of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport which has a capacity of 12 million passengers while the Panglao Airport in Bohol is expected to open this year.

Moreover, Puyat said that her department will be reaching out to cruise lines to encourage them to increase calls in the country's ports.

Recent data showed that the Philippines received a total of 130,000 cruise passengers in 2017. Puyat said that they expect this number to grow as they implement their National Cruise Tourism strategy.

"We hope that such developments will inspire our other airports and seaports to upgrade their facilities, enhance customer experience, and improve aesthetics, so as to entice more tourists to explore the different parts of our country," she said.

Furthermore, Puyat said that her department has forged cooperations with local government units and other government agencies for transport infrastructure development, product development, trade facilitation, and tourism investment.

"Likewise, we are also keen on preparing a more welcoming environment for our tourists such as facilitating arrangements for faster visa processing and visa upon arrival, as well as deployment of multi-lingual staff in our key airports," the tourism chief said.

"We have also been talking to the Department of Justice with regards to the long lines in the immigration," she added.

The DOT aims at meeting its year-end goal of 7.4 million international tourist arrivals, which Puyat is confident of achieving.

As of June 2018, South Korea remains to be the country's top source of visitors with a figure of 815,683. This was followed by China (645,089), United States of America (557,833), Japan (316,060), Australia (140,260), and Canada (121,098).

Meanwhile, the DOT targets to meet 12 million international visitor arrivals by year 2022 which is expected to translate to P921 billion inbound receipts, said Puyat.

"The real challenge for us today is how to be worthy of the demand that we have already created. The crucial part of our job in the coming years is to increase capacity across infrastructure, the service sector, and the workforce to meet these goals," the tourism chief said.