San Francisco, California—Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco showcased the country’s tourism gains and recovery efforts post-pandemic, noting that the tourism industry has contributed an estimated USD 7 billion or about PHP 404.02 billion in foreign visitor receipts in the first ten months of 2023.
This amount is around 190 percent higher compared to the USD 2.47 billion, or PHP 138.46 billion in estimated visitor receipts recorded last year.
Secretary Frasco announced the good news as she joined the economic team of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. in heralding the various investment opportunities in the Philippines to the international business community during the 2023 Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) on Wednesday (local time, Nov. 15) at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, California.
“We have received over 4.63 million international visitors which constitutes 96 percent of our entire year’s target, contributing over 7 billion US dollars to our economy,” Secretary Frasco said.
Secretary Frasco also noted that the country’s economic managers have manifested that tourism is the second top economic driver for the Philippines in the first half of 2023.
To note, 2022 concluded with tourism contributing 6.2 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Over 2.65 million foreign visitors came to the country, while 102 million domestic trips were recorded, resulting in more than 5.35 million persons employed in tourism industries.
“The Department of Tourism marks 50 years of bringing the world’s attention to the immense beauty of our country, where tourism is a unifying force for good, and has emerged as one of the strongest pillars of our economy post-pandemic,” Secretary Frasco said.
“As we usher in this golden era of tourism, the work of our President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has been to rally the entire nation, including the public and the private sector, from the national to the local governments, across the entire tourism value chain, to articulate that tourism is a priority. This prioritization, and if I may quote our President, goes beyond the mere provision of economic opportunities and jobs. Rather, it stems from the deep love that all of us Filipinos have for our country,” she added.
Collaboration with the government’s infrastructure and connectivity cluster
During the panel discussion of the country’s economic managers, the tourism chief likewise shared how the goal of transforming the Philippines into a tourism powerhouse in Asia is being materialized by the DOT, and as infrastructure investments are prioritized through the Marcos Administration’s Build Better More Program.
“We’ve engaged in a collaboration with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the purpose of continuing the tourism road infrastructure program, and as a result of that, over 158 kilometers of tourism roads have been constructed or rehabilitated this year, with more to come in 2024 and in succeeding years,” she said.
In improving connectivity and tourist convenience, the DOT is also collaborating with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) not only for hard infrastructure investments but more importantly, for soft infrastructure or human capital development. This included the “Filipinization” of the country’s airports and seaports, starting with the enhancement of the Terminal 2 of the country’s main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“We have trained frontline tourism workers in our airports and seaports in the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence. This program, as a whole, has trained over 111,000 Filipino tourism workers across the tourism value chain,” the Secretary added.
The DOT has also initiated the building of initial 10 tourist rest areas (TRA) in strategic locations across the country, with 18 more to come to enhance the overall tourist experience.
Moreover, the Philippines is expected to build five cruise terminals in the coming year, a project that the DOT actively supports under the auspices of the DOTr and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), according to the Secretary.
Other cabinet officials who joined the panel were DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonoan, DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista, and Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Raphael Perpetuo Lotilla.
Titled “Think Growth, Think Philippines,” the PEB in San Francisco is one of the activities of the Philippine delegation on the sidelines of President Marcos Jr. ‘s working visit to the United States of America (USA) for the 30th edition of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.