Use tourism to rise from devastation wrought by typhoons
The government and tourism stakeholders were urged by Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) to use tourism as a tool to get the country back on track after being hit by several typhoons.
Noting that the recent typhoons that hit the country brought great damages to agriculture and many infrastructures in the country, Gordon said that tourism would help generate the needed financial resources for the rehabilitation process.
"Right now we are in a situation where we had been hit hard by a disaster. This is a time when we must get our acts together and focus and put tourism at the forefront of our efforts," he said at the National Tourism Dialogue organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (PCCI).
"Our rice fields had been flooded, many infrastructures were damaged. Tourism can easily get us back into the game, because tourism means new dollars, more income for us, and tourism means jobs," he added.
Gordon, a former tourism secretary, said that both the tourism and trade industries must work together in encouraging more foreigners to visit the country by promoting tourist destinations in areas that were not affected by recent typhoons, noting that there are 7,107 Philippine islands to choose from.
"Tourism is the biggest business in the whole world today. Our country has fallen far behind in terms of tourism because we lack focus. We already have a Tourism Law and we must use it to fully develop the different tourist destinations in the country," he said.
The Tourism Act of 2009, which the senator principally authored, would make tourism the country's prime engine of growth by creating tourism enterprise zones.
A Tourism Promotions Board would also be created which shall be responsible for marketing and promoting the Philippines domestically and internationally as a major global tourism destination, highlighting the uniqueness and assisting the development of its tourism products.
"The whole industry--trade and tourism--must get together to make sure that you improve, fine tune the industry, and work hard, focus on a particular target, make sure that the area is friendly to businessmen and tourists," Gordon said.
"But above all we should be proud of our country. If you have all these things we can get this tourism business in the country to become number one in Asia, not because we say so but because we have done so," he added.