September 25, 2023

Both national and local government actors must enhance infrastructure while key tourism stakeholders may invest on capacity building programs to facilitate the successful transition of the tourism industry from the pandemic situation.

This, especially as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) entered into force in the Philippines on June 2, while the country decides whether to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Dr. Marie Jel Bautista, Assistant Professor at Central Luzon University, said the enhancements in both hard and soft infrastructure are necessary to provide a seamless and superior tourist experience to visitors that is marked by the Filipino brand of service that is unique to the Philippines.

Hard infrastructure includes better airports, seaports, and terminals; railways for convenient and fast travel; comfortable accommodations; roads and bridges to connect destinations in a circuit; better telecommunication connectivity; among others; while soft infrastructure comprises educational platforms; investment climate; efficient financial systems; peace and security; health and safety, among others.

“Hand in hand with promotional activities, infrastructures must be in place to fulfill its product promise to tourists – that it is indeed more fun in the Philippines,” she said in a webinar.

Bautista said ensuring the readiness and competitiveness of tourism stakeholders is equally important.

She said government agencies as well as the private sector in the tourism value chain may invest on capacity building programs that will enhance the way tourism is delivered to the travelers, tourists and visitors whether for business or leisure.

Capacity-building programs can encompass topics and areas such as sustainability, leadership, strategic business planning, marketing, and advertising, management, managing service operations, logistics, foreign language, history, public speaking, and communication, among others.

“In the context of the post-pandemic situation, tourism professionals and workers need to be upskilled. A trained manpower across the tourism value chain guarantees the delivery of a seamless and a superior tourist experience to visitors,” she added.

To address issues in relation to information asymmetry, Bautista said communication campaigns may be prioritized to increase awareness about trade liberalization such as RCEP and CPTPP.

“And one of the ways to jumpstart this is for the government to conduct several public fora, conferences, and discussion tables with experts, authorities, policymakers and academicians with the goal of addressing stakeholders’ concerns and raising awareness about this topic. So with the help of the private sector also, the government will utilize media – both traditional and digital or social media to disseminate information effectively,” she said.

Bautista and Asian Institute of Management Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism development consultant and research manager, Eylla Laire Gutierrez, and associate director Dr. John Paolo Rivera authored a recent Philippine Institute for Development Studies discussion paper “Analysis of the Readiness of Philippine Tourism Enterprises for Trade Liberalization in Asia-Pacific.”

“…A whole of government approach is necessary to strengthen competition and business regulatory policies that will ensure that players, both domestic and foreign, would have a level playing field given trade liberalization so that elite capture, unsustainable business practices, inefficient operations, trade diversion effects can be avoided – true to the aim of such legislation to enhance economic efficiency, as well as promote free and fair competition in trade, industry, and all commercial economic activities,” the paper said.

The discussion paper discussed how tourism enterprises prepare themselves for the impacts of trade liberalization brought about by RCEP and CPTPP.

The tourism industry is deemed significant as the country’s top economic pillar heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. – Press release