June 3, 2023

Having exceeded the numbers in terms of tourism for the year after losing much in the past three years, the Department of Tourism said the best is yet to come for the country’s tourism, as it expands improvement and promotion efforts of the country here and abroad.

On official visit in Baguio City on Dec. 5, Tourism Sec. Christina Frasco has informed tourism stakeholders of the government’s plans to strengthen tourism from the ground up through a seven-point objective as the agency recognizes how much has been lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among the goals is for the government to address infrastructure improvement and gateway access, which for Baguio includes the reopening of the Loakan Airport via the Philippine Airlines, saying the ushering in of flights to the city will reinvigorate its economy.

Frasco said they will also ensure a comprehensive digitalization and connectivity by way of improving Internet and WiFi connectivity in destinations in coordination with the Department of Information and Communication Technology.

The DOT is also in the process of developing a travel app in coordination with the Tourism Promotions Board to make travel booking around the around the country as convenient as possible.

It also plans to improve the overall tourism experience, giving attention even to the littlest of details, as Frasco said details matter in any tourism endeavor.

This includes the establishment of tourism rest areas nationwide, including one in Baguio that had a ground breaking ceremony last week.

The DOT is also engaging in the equalization of tourism product development and promotion.

“This intends to reach out as far as possible to our 17 regions, 80 provinces, over a hundred cities, and over 1,400 municipalities to ensure that no local government unit gets left behind in the development of the tourism industry,” Frasco said.

For this, the DOT recently launched the Philippine Experience, a heritage, culture, and arts caravanthat will cover all regions and offer travel packages that will not only focus on the destination but on all of the other nuances that make the destinations’ meat: food, festivals, products, people, and all offerings that make the Philippines unique.

The DOT is also working on diversifying the country’s tourism product portfolio to ensure expansion of offerings while improving present offerings under the agency.This includes putting focus on food and gastronomy, heritage, culture, arts, and the like.

Frasco said they also intend to maximize domestic tourism, recognizing the strength that it has had in supporting the economy, especially during the time when international borders were closed.

The DOT alsofully supports cross-boundary and regional promotion, which is the reason for the holding of the North Luzon Travel Fair to bring the rest of the Philippines to north Luzon to expose the rest of the country to what the north areas have to offer.

Collaboration and coordination between the national and local governments and with public and private stakeholders will also be strengthened, which Frasco said is one most of the most important components of the seven-point objective.

“You are the most important component of the tourism industry, knowing well that notwithstanding the difficulties and challenges that our country has faced in the past few years, you forged forward. You have provided that strength and spirit necessary for this industry to survive and thrive,” she said.

She added the outlook for Philippine tourism is optimistic, as visitor receipts have already exceeded P130 billion this year and “the best is yet to come for the industry through collaboration and coordination.”

“Coming from the LGU as a mayor, I bring with me a sense of urgency knowing that one day more for tourism stakeholders to wait for the industry to recover is one day too late. Under this administration, we will pursue this aggressive seven-point objective,” said Frasco, who was the mayor of Liloan, Cebu from 2016 to 2022 and Civil Service Commission Presidential Lingkod Bayan regional awardee in 2021. – Hanna C. Lacsamana