Gov’t eyes making Philippines ‘tourism powerhouse’ in NTDP for 2023 to 2028

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco on Wednesday presented the completed National Tourism Development Plan covering 2023 to 2028 at the Tourism Stakeholders’ National Summit.

In her presentation, Frasco gave a window into the projects that the Department of Tourism has already implemented and has yet to implement in the next few years to spur the tourism industry’s recovery after it experience a slump following the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

Philippine tourism goals

Frasco underscored that the NTDP is anchored on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s vision to “transform the Philippine tourism industry into a tourism powerhouse in Asia.” She cited that the NTDP is geared toward keeping the country’s tourism industry innovative, inclusive, and globally competitive.

“This NTDP will serve as a blueprint for the strategies on how the Department of Tourism intends to continue and to grow the impact of tourism upon our economy in the next few years. This will be the guidebook of the industry where we put in place mechanisms for sustainability for many many years to come,” she said.

“Under the leadership of President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. we have been called upon to transform the Philippine [tourism industry] into a tourism powerhouse in Asia. With your partnership, collaboration, and your unwavering support, I can say that we have begun the work of transforming the industry and giving the Philippines a more significant role in the ASEAN and in the world,” Frasco added.

The tourism secretary also refreshed the following seven main objectives of the NTDP:

  • Improvement of Tourism Infrastructure and Accessibility
  • Cohesive and Comprehensive Digitalization and Connectivity
  • Enhancement of the Overall Tourist Experience
  • Equalization of Tourism Product Development and Promotion
  • Diversification of the Tourism Portfolio through Multidimensional Tourism
  • Maximization of Domestic and International Tourism
  • Strengthening Tourism Governance through Close Collaborations with National and Local Stakeholders.

Among the projects previously launched included DOT’s Tourist Rest Areas, which provide convenience to tourists; Bisita Be My Guest, an incentive program to entice Filipinos to take an active role in the promotion of Philippine tourist destinations; and Tourism Champions Challenge, a nationwide campaign to incentivize tourism development among cities and municipalities, among many others.

Frasco also mentioned the plan to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, plan to put up travel kiosks in SM Malls, as well as the launch of a tourist lifestyle app, among others.

The tourism chief said that the DOT is ready to roll out the completed NTDP 2023-2028 once the president approves the plan.

While she did not disclose the actual figures of the targets during the current administration, Frasco expressed optimism that the country would achieve the targets laid out in the NTDP.

She reported that the Philippines boosted the country’s Gross Domestic Product in the pandemic era as it exceeded the target revenue of P155.03 billion by 38.06%, recording P214 billion or around US$4 billion in estimated revenues in 2022.

Frasco, however, acknowledged that the Philippines still has to face existing challenges such as its low rank in Southeast Asian tourism in terms of tourist arrivals, the ranking in the World Economic Forum 2021 Travel and Tourism Development Index, which dropped two places from its 2019 ranking.

According to the tourism chief, the Philippines’ momentum for recovery and growth has begun and it is set to become a global powerhouse.

“We’ve eased restrictions. We’ve continued to aggressively promote our destinations through the DOT’s constant and unyielding presence in various exhibits in the Philippines and all over the world. And people are traveling now, and are traveling with a vengeance. By promoting the Philippines through the biggest international tourism and trade fairs across Asia and Europe, we are re-introducing the Philippines to the world, and bringing no less than the best of the best of the country and the Filipino people,” Frasco said.

“With your partnership, your collaboration, and your belief—your continued belief—in the strength of the tourism industry, we are confident that not only will we be able to accomplish the recovery for this much-battered industry, but more importantly, accomplish a true transformation of the tourism industry that will allow the Philippines to take a primary role in the ASEAN and the world as a tourism powerhouse in Asia, because the Filipino people deserve nothing less,” she concluded.

The draft of the NTDP 203-2029 was first previewed during the Tourism Coordinating Council last February.

Frasco’s presentation last Wednesday, on the other hand, was witnessed by 350 attendees from the national government agencies, local government units (LGUs), associations and organizations from the tourism sectors who filled the venue hall of the Sheraton Manila Bay.

Support for DOT, NTDP 2023-2028

With this huge attendance, the DOT garnered support from stakeholders including Quirino Gov. Dakila Carlo Cua and Rep. Eleandro Jesus  Madrona (Romblon, Lone District).

Cua, who serves as the president of the Union of Local Authorities in the Philippines (ULAP), extended the union’s support to the DOT “in its efforts to promote sustainable tourism practices and create a better future for the Filipino people. He stressed the importance of local government units' contribution to the realization of the NTDP.

“Local governments play a critical role in promoting and developing tourism. By leading government efforts, local governments can ensure that tourism is sustainable, benefits the local community and contributes to the economic development of the area,” the ULAP officer said.

Madrona, also the House Committee on Tourism chair, likewise expressed support for the fruition of the NTDP.

“Today’s event speaks for itself. Sa totoo po, pagpasok ko kanina, nakita ko punong-puno itong ating venue. That means to say marami po talaga ang nakiki-isa sa ating drive to develop tourism. The holding of this national summit is a testimony to the fact that the DOT is not resting on its laurels, and we would like to assure you that the outputs, ideas, and recommendations in the National Tourism Development Plan will be used by the House of Representatives as the perfect springboard in generating tourism legislations which are far deeper and productive to the industry,” he added.

Aside from the national government agencies and LGUs present, various tourism groups, including the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Educators of the Philippines, Heritage Conservation Society, Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International Inc., National Association of Independent Travel Agencies, Philippine Hotel Owners Association, and UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines, among others, also attended the stakeholders’ summit.

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