Senate committee endorses bill strengthening RP tourism
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Tourism, submitted recently the committee report endorsing Senate Bill No. 2138 also known as the "Tourism Act of 2005" which seeks to strengthen the Philippine's tourism industry and which aims to create thousands of jobs for Filipinos all over the country.
In his sponsorship speech, Gordon lamented that the Philippines has lagged behind its neighbors in the tourism industry. He noted that in 2003, Thailand and Malaysia had visitors in excess of 10 million, while Indonesia and Singapore had more than five million visitors. Even Vietnam, a country that had been ravaged by war, surpassed the two million mark in tourism arrivals, while the Philippines did not even break that figure.
"Tourism is the largest industry in the world, with 700 million tourists a year, collectively spending hundreds of billions of dollars. It is the key to lifting our people out from their poverty, giving them jobs and opportunities and allowing to live in pride and dignity," said Gordon.
According to Gordon, Senate Bill No. 2138 will make the Department of Tourism (DoT) a purely policy-making, planning and regulatory entity. An important feature of the bill is the establishment of Tourism Philippines, a government corporation that brings together government and the private sector, whose mandate is the marketing and promotions of the Philippines as a tourism destination. It also proposes the establishment of a Tourism Enterprise Zone Authority to tap investments from domestic and overseas sources, to bring those investments into tourism enterprise zones that can be run by the national or local governments, the private sector, or joint ventures between them.
"These three agencies respectively respond to the core ideas of regulation, marketing and infrastructure development for tourism. Their functions will be clearly defined so that there will be no overlapping in responsibilities. That will truly maximize the potential of the country's tourism industry," emphasized Gordon.
The Tourism Act of 2005, filed by Gordon, envisions more job opportunities for Filipinos as more tourists arrive in the country. Gordon noted that "every tourist that comes in means one more person with real money that can buy our goods."
"For every tourist that comes in, there will be one more person to take a cab from the airport, take his meals at a restaurant during the day and drink our beer at the bars at night, check into a hotel, go to the beach and pay for a massage on our white sand and buy bead bracelets and necklaces, go diving or hike through our forests, paying for guides and equipment along the way, shop at our malls to buy our shirts and our shoes. That directly translates to various job opportunities for the Filipinos," said Gordon.
He added that the bill seeks to change the philosophy of government toward tourism and to create the necessary political and legal structures to make tourism development happen. It proposes a shared responsibility of national and local governments by directly involving the latter in the drafting and implementation of tourism development plans and providing necessary training in enforcing tourism standards.
The Manila Bulletin
9 December 2005