Philippines eyes 6.3 million tourists by 2016


Philippines’ Department of Tourism is gearing up to increase the number of tourists who will sample the Philippines’ “undiscovered treasures and hidden gems” to 6.5 million international arrivals, and over 32 million domestic travelers by 2016.

In an interview at DZIQ 990 AM yesterday morning, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim identified three key strategies that the DOT is focusing on to turn the Philippines into a “must experience” destination in Asia.

“We’re playing catch-up with tourism powerhouses like Malaysia, which registered 23 million visitors last year, and Singapore, which had 15 million visitors in 2010,” Lim said.

“Our target is to hit 6.5 million international arrivals by the end of President Aquino’s term.”

To achieve this target, the DOT is zeroing in on improving “access and connectivity.”

“We’re pushing hard for the rapid expansion of secondary international airports, and address traffic bottlenecks at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport,” he said.

Lim said DOT and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is currently mapping out a strategic access infrastructure development program between the secondary international airports and strategic destinations for pleasant and easy transport.

“We’re also working with various government agencies and local government units to develop and market competitive tourist destinations and products, with a goal of having one town, one product,” he said.

Responding to a query from a radio listener, Lim also revealed a plan to make tourism-related investments in the Philippines more attractive.

“ We’ve set up a mandatory tourism enterprise accreditation and certification system that with simplified business set-up and licensing procedures, he said.

Lim said the combined public-private sector efforts include the funding of marketing campaigns to target key-growth areas.

“Our main game plan is to convince, particularly foreign markets, that if they think they’ve you’ve seen enough of the Philippines, think again, because we will show them otherwise,” Lim said.

Lim said the DOT is targeting international tourism exhibits, specifically foreign buyers from Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

The tourism secretary said the DOT’s main pitch to foreign buyers and tourists centers around the theme of the Philippines’ “undiscovered treasures.”

“These are our stunning natural landscapes and prolific underwater life to the vibrant nightlife, awesome shopping and bargain hunting, delectable native and fusion cuisines, unique destinations, and countless other activities and possibilities,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lim said public-private sector partnerships are now underway to modernize the country’s international gateways such as the international airports in Laoag in Ilocos, Clar and Subic in Pampanga and Manila, as well as Puerto Princessa in Palawan, Cebu-Mactan and Panglao.

“We’re also targeting on modernizing and building new facilities in Southern Philippines, such as Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Zamboanga international airports, and Kalibo in Aklan, which will service tourist-rich destinations like Boracay,” he said.

Lim identified the top domestic tourist destination for 22.8 million Filipinos since 2009 as Metro Manila, Camarines Sur, Cebu, Davao City, Cagayan Valley, Baguio, Boracay, Zambales, Puerto Princessa, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Camiguin Island and Ilocos Norte.