Digital data on tourism touted by DOT official

Published July 24, 2020, 10:08 PM

by Hanah Tabios

With the major changes in the mode of tourism operations under the new normal, an official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) is asking the full cooperation of local government units (LGUs), as well as the private sector, in prioritizing the use of digital data.

Benito Bengzon Jr.

This, as the DOT is heavily campaigning for the digitization of tourism-related data which is deemed vital for the operations and success of the sector over the years.
“Statistics has proven itself vital to prevention, planning preparation, prioritization, and practice,” Benito Bengzon Jr. said during the second installation of the Philippine Tourism Satellite Account (PTSA) dissemination forum held online.
In fact, in the same forum, Warner Andrada, officer-in-charge of the DOT Office of Tourism Development Planning, Research and Information Management, revealed that the Philippine tourism marked a new milestone as the year 2019 concluded with 8,260,913 visitor arrivals or a 15.24 percent increase compared to 7,168,467 in 2018.
He said tourist traffic in the Philippines has been continuously growing in the last 10 years, with South Korea as the biggest visitor generating market in terms of foreign tourist arrivals, followed by China and the United States.
Even with the ongoing global health crisis, the DOT has been continuously maximizing the use of digital media in promoting tourism sites in the country through its “Wake Up in the Philippines” campaign, not to mention that the country’s domestic tourism sites have also been reaping several international tourism recognitions even at the height of the pandemic. 
“The adoption of new technologies now by the government would allow us for a faster gathering of data, as well as analyze the tourism industry’s performance. We will need to deploy new technologies in data collection,” Assistant Secretary Roberto Alabado III said.
“At the same time, we have to check at the use of digital check-in, online survey, electronic submissions maybe by our properties, use of our mobile applications, use of big data analysis and this will be used heavily now,” he added.
Still in 2019, the DOT recorded an all-time high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) share of 12.7 percent. Tourism was valued at P2.5 trillion last year and this is up by 10.8 percent compared to the 2018 record of P2.2 trillion
According to PSA, inbound tourism expenditure reached P548.8 billion in 2019 and contributed 9.9 percent to the country’s total exports of goods and service. This represents 23.2 percent higher from its 2018 level of P445.6 billion.
While outbound tourism expenditure reached P341.6 billion in 2019. This was higher by 2.6 percent compared to its 2018 level of P333.0 billion.
Last year’s tourism employment also peaked at 5.7 million, higher by 6.5 percent compared to 5.4 million in the previous year.
Tourism Congress of the Philippines President Jose Clemente III welcomed this development in the forum, highlighting that he would be more interested to see how tourism statistics will affect the entire economy by 2021.
“I think this is something that we have been feeling for the past few years. Were it not for this unfortunate situation we are in right now, the contribution of tourism will be much larger than even what we had last year,” he said.
Clemente also welcomed the report from PSA, where it revealed that nearly P660 billion were invested by the public and private sectors in tourism in the previous year.
According to PSA Assistant National Statistician Service Vivian Ilarina, the private sector invested the amount of P569.1 billion last year, higher by 3.6 percent than the P549.5 billion estimates in 2018.
Tourism GFCF covers both tourism-specific and non-tourism-specific fixed assets, such as cruise ships, sightseeing buses, hotel facilities, convention centers, computer system of hotel or travel agency, hotel laundry facilities, among others.
The tourism collective consumption, on the other hand, has reached P94.1 billion in 2019, higher by 23.5 percent compared with P76.2 billion in 2018. These government expenditures are associated with support and control of tourism.
“I think this is something that we welcome (government putting money on tourism) and we hope that we can resume when we start to recover from the pandemic,” Clemente added.
Currently, the DOT is ramping up its efforts for the recovery of the sector through the gradual reopening of domestic tourism sites incorporating the “slow but sure” approach.