The supposed “negative global perception” of the Philippines remains to be a challenge for the country’s tourism industry, according to the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT).
While saying that it is not hard to envision the Philippines as a top travel destination, Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo admitted that “misconceptions” of the country have been affecting the nation’s tourist arrivals.
According to Teo, the perception of the Philippines as “a center of natural calamities such as typhoons, flash floods and earthquakes” influences the number of foreigners who want to visit the country.
She also cited threats to peace and order, especially in the southern Philippines, as among the factors that contribute to the negative perception of the country.
“The DOT continues to face challenges of uplifting tourism amidst perceived security and safety problems. Another factor is the perception of the Philippines as the center of natural calamities such as typhoons flash floods and earthquakes,” Teo said during the Tourism Crisis Management Symposium on December 12.
Despite declaring the Marawi crisis over, martial law in Mindanao has been extended until December 31 next year due to threats posed by the communist New People’s Army, Islamic extremist groups and local terrorist groups.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte first declared martial law in Mindanao in May amid the attacks of Maute rebel group in Lanao del Sur. The government declared the war over in October.
“Despite the overwhelming support the president received from the southern local and regional communities plus the personal testimonies of our southern kababayans that all is well, that the government’s move actually provides stability, the global perception is still —global perception was very, very vague,” Teo said.
She then urged stakeholder to help the country address such issues to improve the country’s global perception.
“We cannot blame those who are outside looking in if the international community perception is one with chaos and instability. It is our duty as stakeholders of this nation to figure out how we can correct this misconception,” Teo said.
“This is why crisis management, much like sustainability, is our shared responsibility,” she added.
According to the DOT, tourism industry contributes to almost 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Government data also recorded 4.47 million international arrivals to the Philippines from January to August 2017. This is higher compared to the 4.04 million during the same period in 2016.