Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco welcomes the Publicus Asia survey result which placed the tourism agency in the top 3 of government agencies with the highest approval ratings nationwide.
The survey, conducted between November 25 to 30, 2022 likewise ranked the DOT 8th in terms of trust rating from the public.
“We are grateful for the Filipino people’s positive response and support for the work we have done in the past 6 months to usher in the recovery of the tourism industry,” said Secretary Frasco.
“Guided by the vision of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. for tourism to be a strong engine of socio-economic growth, we are optimistic that just as we have greatly exceeded our targets this year, 2023 will usher in more record-breaking numbers, translating to more livelihood and employment opportunities for our fellow Filipinos. We are thankful for our continued partnership and collaboration with the hardworking men and women of the Philippine tourism industry from the public and private sectors across the country,” added the Tourism Secretary.
𝗗𝗢𝗧’𝘀 𝗧𝗮𝗿𝗴𝗲𝘁𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟯
During the DOT’s year-end media briefing held last Monday (December 19) at the Sheraton Hotel, Secretary Frasco disclosed that the DOT is targeting 4.8 million international visitors for 2023 as its baseline.
She said the Department is seeing its 2023 projections with full optimism, as the industry targets have been recalibrated after exceeding the targets before year-end.
The DOT had initially projected 1.7 million tourist arrivals this year, but the actual count recorded as of December 19 has reached 2.46 million guests. The United States emerged as the country’s top tourist market with 461,967 visitors, followed by South Korea (387,780), Australia (122,971), Canada (112,015), the United Kingdom (93,440), Japan (91,557), Singapore (50,964), India (49,330), Malaysia (44,357), and Vietnam (37,028).
The Tourism Chief stressed that the Department will close the year with a promising trajectory of 2.5 million visitor arrivals accounting to close to 30 percent of the industry’s pre-pandemic arrivals data, when the Philippines recorded 8.3 million arrivals in 2019. This, she said, “is a far cry from the 164,000 recorded in 2021.
The Secretary added that the new projections are made with consideration of factors that are beyond the control of the Department, such as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, rising fuel prices, inflation, and the continued lockdowns in China which, for the longest time, has been the top tourist market of the Philippines.
“We look at it with optimism in a sense that our goal is to exceed our conservative projections in the same way that we have been able to exceed it this year,” Secretary Frasco said.
“And we feel that we would be able to exceed our pre-pandemic numbers way earlier than the 2025 year that was told to us when we assumed office with the improved policies under the Marcos administration,” she added.
𝗣𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗴𝗼𝗮𝗹𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟯
Secretary Frasco said that part of the priority goals of the DOT for next year is fortifying its collaboration with other national government agencies and local government units (LGUs) in developing the country’s tourism portfolio and exemplifying the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence (FBSE) by training 100,000 tourism workers, a highest record set by far for the industry.
The Tourism Secretary on Wednesday (December 20) also inked a formal partnership with the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) to enhance the overall tourist experience at the established tourist centers around the country. The partnership, she noted, would provide improved internet connectivity in at least 94 destinations all over the country, and more digitalized tourism services.
In fact, the removal of the One Health Pass and redundant health checks at the country’s biggest and busiest gateways, as earlier lobbied by the DOT, has become key to surpassing the tourism targets of the DOT.
Frasco said the goal is to make travel seamless for all types of travelers, thus, the launching of the E-arrival pass together with the DOT, DICT, BI, BOQ, and DOH which integrates all the requirements of five government agencies into one platform.
“It makes travel as convenient as possible for any Filipino or tourist coming into the country by removing any barriers that would otherwise dissuade tourists from coming into the Philippines,” she said.
The Department also launched two of its newest tourism programs–the Philippine Travel Experience which would give tourists a window to discover the country’s tourism gems in over a hundred cities and more than a thousand municipalities by making it easy and convenient for them to book tour packages; and the Bisita, Be My Guest Program, wherein Filipinos can become ambassadors of tourism by providing incentives and exciting prizes to those who can successful bring foreign friends or relatives into the Philippines.
The DOT has also laid the groundwork for the Philippines to be more tourism-competitive in Asia and the world through the establishment of one-stop-shop tourist centers called Tourist Rest Areas (TRA) in 10 strategic locations across the country which are: Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon; Samal Island in Davao del Norte; Baguio in the Cordilleras; Dauis in Bohol; Saud in Ilocos Norte; and Carcar, Carmen, Medelin, and Moalboal in Cebu, and in January 2023, in Roxas in Palawan.
“Aside from diversifying our products in arts and film tourism, we are also developing the country’s existing tourism products including dive and marine sports tourism, education, health and cruise tourism, food and gastronomy tourism, culture and heritage tourism, MICE tourism and halal tourism,” she said.
The Tourism Secretary said she will also ensure the continuity of her listening tours, which have proven to be helpful in gathering the most important insights from industry stakeholders on the ground, with the intent of establishing an inclusive, collaborative, and consultative Tourism Department.
She said the DOT is also in close coordination with its partner government offices such as the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), as well the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Health (DOH) for the enhanced travel connectivity and ensured safety of tourists.
Secretary Frasco revealed that the Department is currently working alongside with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Bureau of Immigration (BI), and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) to explore the possibility of converting to e-Visa applications and engaging an outsourced visa facilitation service provider for the Chinese and Indian markets.
She also mentioned that the DOT is set to enter into a formal agreement with the Department of National Defense (DND) in relation to the efforts to fully open up Mindanao as a tourism wonder and improve the region’s halal program. She said this would primarily provide equal access to developments across all areas of the region and encourage more visitors to visit the unexplored virgin island beaches and exotic destinations in Mindanao.
𝗠𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗷𝗼𝗯𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗙𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗽𝗶𝗻𝗼𝘀
In terms of increasing employability in the sector, Frasco said the DOT has collaborated with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), in the launching of the Trabaho, Turismo Asenso! Program last September in the National Capital Region (NCR), Cebu and Davao to fill in the gaps in the tourism workforce.
The collaboration has aggregated 157 tourism-related companies and offered a total of 8,310 jobs with 9,000 cumulative registrants.
Tourism training sessions have also been conducted for 25,770 industry stakeholders from tourism-related establishments, Community Based Tourism Organizations (CBTOs), local tourism officers, and members of the academe to equip them with the needed knowledge and skills for the advocacy programs of the sector toward a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive Philippine tourism. Frasco also revealed that in 2023, the Department of Tourism has set the goal of training 100,000 Filipino tourism workers in the Filipino Brand if Servicr Excellence across the nation’s 16 regions in line with the vision of making the Philippines the center for hospitality excellence in Asia.