Press Release
February 29, 2016


With the success of the "It's More Fun in the Philippines" campaign, Senator Sonny Angara has called on the presidential candidates to make tourism development a priority and to present their plans on how to sustain Philippine tourism's significant growth over the past years.

"Sana ang susunod na presidente ay mag-focus sa turismo, lalung-lalo na sa infrastructure development. Kahit anong galing ng promotions o slogan natin, limitado pa din ang pagsulong ng turismo dahil sa kakulangan sa imprastruktura at pasilidad. There's so much room to strengthen and grow this sector," said Angara, vice chairman of the Senate tourism committee.

According to the latest data of the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Philippines has surpassed the five-million foreign tourist arrivals as the country welcomed a total of 5.36 million foreign visitors in 2015. This translates to an 11-percent growth from the 4.83 million foreign visitors in 2014.

The senator, however, lamented that while visitor arrivals in the country continue to rise, the Philippines accounted for only 1.8 percent of international tourist arrivals in the Asia-Pacific region in 2014, lagging behind its Southeast Asian neighbors Vietnam (3 percent), Indonesia (3.6 percent), Singapore (4.5 percent), Thailand (9.4 percent) and Malaysia (10.4 percent), based on the data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

"We have to get our act together so as not to put to waste all the good work done by the DOT in promoting our country. We need to build the necessary infrastructure, fix our airports, and improve road networks," Angara said.

The lawmaker, who was one of the authors of the Tourism Act of 2009 which helped gear the Philippines not only as a premiere travel destination but also as an investment haven for domestic and foreign investors, further stressed the potential of the tourism industry as a major economic driver and job generator for the country.

In 2014, tourism generated direct and indirect employment for 4.2 million Filipinos, based on the World Travel and Tourism Council's Economic Impact 2015 study.

"Kung mapapalago pa natin ang industriya ng turismo sa bansa, mas maraming Pilipino ang mabibigyan ng trabaho at oportunidad na makaahon sa kahirapan, lalung-lalo na sa mga kanayunan na unti-unti nang nakikilala bilang tourist destinations sa bansa. Ito sana ang isa sa mga makitang solusyon ng ating mga presidentiable laban sa talamak na unemployment sa bansa," he said.

In a recent traveltour expo organized by the Philippine Travel Agencies Association, Angara, in his speech, also pointed out that certain Filipino traits are tailor-made for tourism.

"The Philippines boasts of pristine beaches, lush greenery, incredible dive sites, vibrant cities and historic landmarks. But more than the destinations, the Filipino people are our main attraction. As one of the happiest, most fun-loving people on earth, Filipinos are among the world's best hosts. Sabi nga ni Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, 'We are confidently beautiful with a heart.

"This is why we want to inculcate the culture of service and hospitality in every Filipino as we welcome more foreign visitors not just because we are happy to do it, but because we know that our countrymen will be greatly benefitted by this," Angara said.

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