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Interview with Secretary of Tourism of the Philippines

Mario Masciullo, special to eTN  Feb 09, 2016

What are the objectives towards the year 2020?

We believe that the Philippines is a destination of great interest in Asia and as such stimulate international tourism to live an experience in it. With "Country Tourism Plan National Development (NTDP) 2011-2016," which proved to be an effective planning and an implementation mechanism for the development of tourism, we moved to our goal prior to the identification of the product and its improvement. Through this direction, we are ready to achieve the country's goals. We lined up in the full cooperation of other government agencies in the development and marketing of competitive tourism products and destinations; facing all the infrastructure target requirements, improved market access, and connectivity and improving the institutional tourism, governance of the labor force employed in tourism.

Our commitment to the development of tourism is evident in the pursuit of economically sustainable programs, socially responsible and environmentally friendly. These efforts, together with the reasons for the inclusive growth of tourism ensures the continuous development of the Philippine Tourism, I would say, beyond 2020.

What level of growth is expected from the ASEAN market, the Chinese market, and the global market for the Philippines in 2016?

With 415,868 visitors in the first ten months of 2015 the Chinese market ranks among the top five tourist markets for the Philippines. The trends show that the Chinese market is one of the most profitable and will be in the next five years. Since the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is approaching and tourism is one of the 12 sectors 'priority' identified in the AEC roadmap, therefore, it requires our full commitment. With the implementation of the ASEAN Open Skies policy we foresee a huge growth potential for traffic from the ASEAN region. The ASEAN market share of total arrivals in the Philippines has steadily increased from six percent in 2001 to ten percent in 2014. We trust in the projection of the 'World Tourism Organization of the United Nations for tourism in the Philippines which sees tourist arrivals in the country increased by 11 percent, rising at least 5 notches above the previous level (UNWTO, 2013).

In fact, five ASEAN tourism markets are among the top ten sources of visitors to the Philippines. For the first ten months of the year, Korea maintains pole position of number one source for the incoming tourist traffic, with over 1,099,192 visitor arrivals, taking us a quarter of the entire market pie. The Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), on the other hand, have the highest growth rate at 24.33% are placed in sixth place, with 150.531 arrivals.

Finally, people will continue to travel around the world at a rate never seen before. Improving connectivity, the wide range of flights offered by full service and low cost airlines stimulate the journey. Short-haul destinations remain popular especially among the "first time travellers." Those with more travel experience and increase in disposable income will go toward the long haul and exotic destinations. The young working class growing or new Millennials will fit in the travel party. We also expect a large number of families traveling both within and abroad.

What impact, if any, will occur following the elections of next year on tourism?

The Aquino administration recognized tourism as one of the key points in the economy, is giving a huge support for its development and marketing activities across the country. The influence on tourism in the coming general elections depends on the direction which the tourism sector advisors to pursue the program of the next six years. The Filipino people would surely love to see our growth and we hope to be supported by the new administration. Where we are today is very different from when we started in 2011. We have just planted the seeds, and there is still much work to do to ensure that the developments that we have started is not in vain and that progress will be sustained.

Which are the festivals in 2016 that will be included in the promotion plan?

In addition to special incentives present in our campaign "Visit the Philippines again in 2016" (VPA 2016), the Department of Tourism of the Philippines (pdot) and Tourism Promotion Board (TPB), we have spent in various events/attractions program for all types of tourists and travelers, such as the ASEAN tourism Forum 2016, Routes Asia 2016, Manila Madrid Fusion 2016, Championship Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific, MTV Music Evolution 2016, among many others.

Is there a plan to strengthen or gestate any associations in 2016?

Yes, the Philippines will not only continue their partnership with the ASEAN Dialog Partners and international organizations, but will strengthen further and examine any programs and initiatives that will advance the interrelations between the Philippines and other organizations.

Interview with Secretary of Tourism of the Philippines
Secretary of Tourism of the Philippines, HE Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr.

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