Tourism industry generates Php344 Billion in int’l visitor receipts in 9 months; Frasco seeks Senators’ support to usher in the “Golden Era” of Philippine tourism

During the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee “J” to deliberate on the proposed 2024 budget of the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday (Oct. 3), Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco reported the resurgence of the Philippine tourism industry as it records Php 344 Billion in foreign visitor receipts in just the first nine months of 2023. 

“As of October 3, 2023, I am pleased to report to this Honorable Committee, that the Philippines has received over four (4) million international arrivals into the Philippines, constituting over 84.7% of our target for this year. Thus far, the revenues contributed by tourism to our economy as of September 30, 2023 numbers Php 344 Billion,” Secretary Frasco said. 

“After the pandemic, as the world opened up to countries opening up to travel and tourism once again, the landscape variably changed, which necessitated taking on a developmental approach towards tourism, as well as a recognition of the necessity for innovation in corresponding to global trends. Our President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. has long recognized since the beginning of his administration, the immense potential of tourism as a socio-economic tool for development to provide livelihood and employment opportunities to our fellow Filipinos,” the tourism chief added. 

Ushering in the Golden Era of Tourism 

According to Secretary Frasco, as the DOT ushers in the golden era of tourism under the Marcos Administration, the Department is optimistic about implementing more projects that “would further elevate the quality of Philippine tourism”. 

Among the DOT’s projects in the pipeline include the continuation of tourism roads and infrastructure projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DWPH) convergence, enhancement of tourist experience through the Travel Philippines application, development of its Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) operations manual, the establishment of Tourist Emergency Centers and more Tourist Rest Areas, introduction of programs to support the creative industries, and further develop of tourism products such as farm, halal, health and wellness, MICE, pilgrimage and heritage, sports including surfing and golf, tourism, as well as offer tourism scholarships, among others.  

While the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP) for the DOT which consists of an allocation of Php 2.99 Billion is a substantial decrease of 20% compared to its 2023 GAA which amounted to Php 3.7 Billion, and indicates a lower budget for almost all of the Department’s operating units under the Office of the Secretary (OSEC), Secretary Frasco lobbied for the support of the Senators in sustaining the industry’s gains. 

“The DOT therefore appeals for a reevaluation of the budget, as well as the necessary resources to effectively fulfill its mandate, especially since we all know how crucial the tourism sector is to our economy that employs millions of Filipinos,” she said. 

In addition, the Secretary reiterated the DOT’s commitment to uphold transparency and to utilize its budget for the current year. 

“The Department of Tourism is committed to continuing the gains that have been made in this sector under the Marcos Administration by taking a developmental and innovative approach towards tourism development. It is our earnest hope that with the support of this Committee, the honorable Chairperson, and our dear Senators, we would be able to be armed with the appropriate resources that will give us a competitive edge vis-a-vis our ASEAN neighbors,” she concluded. 

The public hearing concluded with Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee “J” chaired by Senator Nancy Binay submitting the proposed 2024 NEP of the Department and its attached agencies to the plenary. 

Maximizing the Department’s limited resources 

Among the DOT’s recent wins in the aspect of connectivity, Secretary Frasco shared, include the construction of tourism roads and improvement of gateways including air and seaports with NAIA Terminal 2 as pilot, recovery of flight seats and frequencies, launching of the country’s first Hop-On Hop-Off (HOHO) Bus Tours, improved connectivity in tourist destinations, and a stronger cruise tourism program, among others. 

In enhancing tourist convenience, the Department has so far launched ten Tourist Rest Areas all over the Philippines with more in the pipeline, and recently, the very first centralized and multi-platform Tourist Assistance Call Center. It also continually works with its attached agencies and other national government agencies to introduce policy reforms concerning making processes and transactions more seamless for travelers. 

To equalize tourism opportunities across the country, the DOT has carried out efforts that banner Mindanao’s readiness to tourism, offered over 21,000 tourism jobs nationwide, increase peace and safety in destinations, as well as uplift regional tourism stakeholders through projects such as the Philippine Experience: Heritage, Culture, and Arts Caravan, among others. 

Anchored on the greatly received enhanced tourism campaign “Love the Philippines”, the DOT has also embarked on training 100,000 Filipinos on the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence (FBSE). 

Secretary Frasco shared that as of October 3, 2023, the DOT has trained 92,173 individuals on the FBSE. 

Senators laud efforts, offer support to DOT programs 

As she presided the hearing, Senator Binay, who inquired into the DOT’s training initiatives, commended the Department’s efforts, particularly its successful breaching of its training targets for the year. 

“I really have to commend DOT also kasi way above the target ‘yung nareach nila considering ‘yung given budget,” the Senator said. 

Senator Loren Legarda shared a similar sentiment with Senator Binay, and requested for the DOT to furnish the Committee with its complete list of training programs and areas where more support will be needed. 

“All these questions are meant to assist because you’re correct, we want to increase our tourism arrivals, we have to train the Filipino people, I mean the workers, and generate more jobs in tourism, and to improve also the knowledge, the expertise of our trainers also, so we want to do that,”  Senator Legarda said. 

Meanwhile, Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, acknowledged Secretary Frasco and the DOT’s programs that aim to enhance tourist convenience, particularly on increasing connectivity and infrastructure, as well as the promotions of the country’s “hidden treasures” such as Tawi-Tawi, the country’s southernmost province, among others. He also commended Secretary Frasco for giving attention to promoting the El Deposito in San Juan City, which is the largest remaining Spanish artifact in the Philippines. 

“Be rest assured of our support and I would like to again commend the DOT and your attached agencies for your efforts but again, Madam Chair, it’s not, promotion is half of it. ‘Yung ibang half is other agencies, again, I reiterate that connectivity is (of) utmost importance, but we have to help in promoting tourism,” he said. 

Senator Robinhood Padilla lauded the DOT’s achievement of surpassing four million visitor arrivals for the year, as shared by Secretary Frasco before the Committee. 

“Wow, congratulations ma’am (Secretary Frasco). Napakalaking bagay po nito sapagkat alam niyo po ‘yung mga kapitbahay natin dito sa Southeast Asia, lahat po sila ang puhunan nila ay nasa turismo,” Senator Padilla said, as he offered his suggestions on how the Tourism Department can further position the Philippines a tourism destination, further noting the potential of film tourism in the country. 

Meanwhile, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go also manifested his support for the DOT’s budget via a text message read by Senator Binay. 

With Secretary Frasco are DOT Undersecretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Central Office and Regional Directors, as well as heads of DOT attached agencies the Intramuros Administration (IA), National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF), Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), Philippine Commission on Sports SCUBA Diving (PCSSD), Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), and the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines (TPB). 


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