New tourism law to ward off impact of global fiscal crisis
The country will now have a shield against the impact of the global economic recession with the enactment into law of the tourism bill said Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today.
Gordon, principal author of the Tourism Act of 2009, made the statement as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to sign the bill into law tomorrow in Cebu.
"The tourism bill, once signed into law, will equip the tourism secretary and tourism stakeholders with all the power, funds, and tools that if used properly will lead to an exponential growth in foreign tourist arrivals," he said.
Gordon said he had crafted the bill with the vision of empowering the entire tourism sector and creating a policy environment conducive to the growth of the industry.
He pointed out that the tourism bill would, among others, spur the creation of jobs and increase the demand for locally-produced consumer items as well as services since the measure is expected to double the number of foreign tourist arrivals. In 2008, there were P3.14 million tourists who visited the country.
"If we reach four to six million foreign tourist arrivals a year, within two or three years, we will be able to provide enough jobs for new graduates as well as our OFWs who are coming home prematurely because of the global recession," Gordon said.
The Tourism Act will make the tourism industry an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development and strengthen the Department of Tourism and its attached agencies..
The senator explained that one of the salient provisions of the measure is the establishment of "tourism enterprise zones" in strategic areas in the country to lure foreign investors and tourists to visit places rich with history and culture.
Gordon, former chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, proved that tourism can transform wastelands into havens for investment. In Subic, investments reached $3 Billion a few short years after the United States military abandoned it.
Meanwhile, during his stint as tourism secretary, Gordon had launched the "WOW Philippines!" campaign, which he used to transform the country's tourism industry then plagued by a negative image of kidnappings and SARS disease. Foreign tourist arrivals reached to two million a year in 2003 from just under one million in 2001.