Reinvigorating tourism in the Philippines

In what is a clear move to reinvigorate tourism all over the Philippines in line with recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. announced a series of moves to achieve their goals and this includes the new project titled “Philippine Experience”, according to two separate news articles (click here and here) published by the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA news article about President Marcos’ speech. Some parts in boldface…

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday underscored the need for tourism industry players and stakeholders to come up with “fresh” and “new” ideas to entice more tourists to travel to the Philippines and revive what he described as one of the “key players” in the nation’s progress.

Marcos made this remark as he lauded the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) ongoing efforts to consult with regional tourism offices about ways to support the tourism industry’s recovery dubbed as “listening tours.”

“Following the pandemic, we need fresh and innovative ideas to bring back the imagination and the confidence of our people—from here and abroad—so they will be encouraged to explore the best destinations that the country can offer,” he said in his speech during the Philippine Tourism Industry Convergence Reception (PTICR) at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

He described the DOT’s listening tours as an “imaginative tool” that helps the government see the perspective of those who are on the ground and understand their experiences and situations.

“The avenues you have opened for all regions will be instrumental not only in formulating the best policies, but also in determining better practices and the best projects for the industry,” he added.

Marcos said the government will remain committed to ensuring that the inputs acquired from the DOT’s listening tours will be “optimized” for the benefit of the tourism sector.

“We want one of the key players in our nation’s progress to be buzzing once again with life again—stronger than ever—so that they will be able to keep up with these fast moving times,” he added.

He also praised DOT Secretary Christina Frasco for keeping his administration on their toes by having a clear vision of her plans for the tourism sector.

“She keeps us on our toes. She has always kept a very very clear idea in her mind of what we are trying to achieve. She has brought passion and energy that certainly that we’re going to need. But it is passion and energy that gives us confidence that we will succeed,” Marcos said.

He said Frasco’s strategy of empowering local government units (LGUs) was a no-brainer given her experience as a former mayor of Liloan municipality in Cebu.

As part of efforts to boost the tourism sector, Marcos reiterated the importance of further developing existing travel destinations and developing new ones.

He also underscored the need to ensure that these destinations are accessible through improved tourism infrastructure.

Marcos said the PTICR provides the perfect opportunity to pursue initiatives for greater tourism connectivity and convenience.

“It is my hope that this reception will foster meaningful discourse and yield concrete plans that we can immediately put into action,” he said.

Greatest asset

Meanwhile, Marcos expressed confidence in using the country’s “greatest asset” to revive the tourism sector to what it was prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“…The greatest asset that we have in the PH are the 107 million Filipinos who are a young, well-trained workforce who are as kind of people, who are as hospitable of people, as gracious of people as you will find anywhere in the world,” he said.

He said he believed that Filipinos will be crucial in “reintroducing” the Philippines to the world.

“I am confident because I have said this many many times that there is no warmer, more poignant sight than the smile of a Filipino and that is something that we can introduce to the world,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Frasco emphasized the “Philippine Experience” during the same event President Marcos attended. Posted below is an excerpt with some parts in boldface…

The program called the Philippine Experience would involve the development of caravans featuring culture, heritage, and arts unique to each region.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said it would draw inspiration from Suroy-Suroy Sugbo, a Cebuano initiative that sought to promote Cebu towns and cities’ products and give tourists a chance to discover underrated destinations.

Giving industry stakeholders a glimpse of the program, Tourism directors from the Cordilleras down to Mindanao showcased the colors, festivals and “living traditions” that could be experienced in their regions.

“Our goal is to equalize opportunities across the regions and support the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage and artistic resources,” Frasco said during the Philippine Tourism Industry Convergence Reception at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on Monday.

“Through these experiential travel modules, we hope to introduce the very essence of our nation more deeply to our tourists and instill a sense of pride and patriotism among the Filipino people through greater appreciation of our country’s inheritance and legacy,” she added.

The Philippine Experience is part of the list of programs that DOT is implementing in the coming months to help the sector recover from the effects of the pandemic and position the Philippines as a primary tourism destination in Asia.

As seen in the above content from two of PNA’s news articles, the national government just made clear its focus on reinvigorating Philippine tourism which has the potential to create new job opportunities, open up channels between tourism business players and other businesses, and generate the much-needed economic activities around the nation. Having worked and lived in Cebu province myself, I am not surprised that the DOT took inspiration from the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo tourism program which was very active during my Cebu years.

Apart from the collective efforts of the tourism business players, the event organizers, the national government and other local government units, we Filipinos can also take part in promoting the nation as a tourist destination that can be enjoyed. I personally am fond of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone as a vacation destination and to those of you planning to go there, make sure you visit Gourmet Garage Subic and Xtremely Xpresso Café for your meals. Subic Bay also has lots of nice hotels to stay in as well as shopping places. If you are looking for a sports event to join in at Subic Bay, then you should register online for the 2023 National Age Group Triathlon event there set for January 2023.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this recent development? Do you feel encouraged to travel around the country and enjoy the tourist destinations?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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