Trade group to draft tourism plan

Trade group to draft tourism plan

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the biggest business organization in the country, is coming up with a plan that would help bring in $150 billion worth of tourism income within 10 years, a top official said.

PCCI director for tourism Samie Lim told reporters that they were in search of 20 tourism destinations that would rival the charm of Boracay, a top tourism spot that has now been temporarily shut down due to environmental concerns.

“So we want to raise $20 billion of investments in specifically tourism enterprises. We want to employ about 10 million people in tourism. [These would be] in 20 destinations that are as good as Boracay, so we don’t just put all our eggs in one basket,” he said.

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This developed weeks after the government shut down Boracay for six months, despite the reservations of local stakeholders, including PCCI, which had wanted the rehabilitation to be done in phases instead.

Lim said that the Canadian government provided funds to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which the latter used to get local governments to submit tourism plans. The exercise came up with 40 provinces.

PCCI later trimmed this down to 20, which the group is now validating to see if the places would have significant access to infrastructure, among other factors, which he said a tourist usually considered when visiting places.

“We will be able to attract 20 million foreign tourists and 100 million domestic tourists. That would bring us $150 billion in terms of tourism income alone. It would be one of the biggest industries in 10 years,” he said.

While he admitted that there were no commitments yet for the additional investments they sought to make, he said they would be talking to various stakeholders, similar to what they did before that led to the Philippines reaching record high tourist arrivals more than a decade ago.

As far back as 10 years ago, the PCCI official had already urged local government units to focus on five key sectors to become competitive tourism destinations.

Lim had pointed out then that to develop a strong tourism industry, policies and investments must focus on the five As of tourism—arrival, access, accommodations, attractions and activities.

Lim, who was also behind the PCCI’s BizTour5 program that sought to develop private sector-initiated tourism programs, said that there should be budget airlines and chartered planes, cruise liners and ferries to accommodate the arriving tourists. He added that there was also a need to develop travel agencies, tour guides and world-class airports and seaports.

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Investments, he added, should also be poured to tourism infrastructures such as roads, ports, telecommunication facilities and sewerage system. The lack of a proper sewerage system in Boracay had led to the degradation of the natural beauty of the island and to its eventual closure for rehabilitation.

Lim also said then that LGUs should try to develop historical, cultural and heritage sites and build parks, museums and camping sites aside from offering sports and recreation activities.

He said the eventual influx of tourists would help boost the growth of shopping malls, medical tourism facilities, retirement homes, resorts, casino-hotels and even convention centers.

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