Prospects of the Country's Tourism (Issue No. 17)


Introduction
The International Labour Organization defined tourism as an economic concept that comprises all services and goods consumed by tourists/visitors as well as all investments made to satisfy that consumption. The industry consists of wide-ranging fields and subsectors to include:

  • Accommodation to include hotels, boarding houses, motels, tourist camps, holiday centers, pension houses/inns and even cruise liners;
  • Restaurants and Bars to include cafeterias, snack bars, pubs, night clubs and similar establishments;
  • Adventure and Leisure-facilities and services for mountain climbing, diving, fishing, boating, surfing, casinos, golf, yachting, camping, etc.
  • Tourist Spots - refers to public parks, wildlife reserves, natural formations, historical landmarks and museums.
  • Tourism Services - professional handling of travel arrangements for airlines, hotels, ferries, car rentals and guided tours.
  • Souvenirs - cater to tourists' needs for memorabilia and local products as gift and display items.
  • Special Events - include festivals, fairs, conventions, conferences, etc.


Why Visit the Philippines?

The Department of Tourism has recently launched the "Visit Philippines 2003". This was even endorsed by the World Tourism Organization, the biggest policy-making body for travel and tourism worldwide. The country is being marketed as a unique business and tourism destination in view of the following:

  • Warm, Hospitable People - Filipinos are gifted with sunny, contagious smile and by nature make strangers feel welcome. Hospitality has been a tradition and an art for Filipinos.
  • Cultural Diversity - Basically of Malay stock, Filipinos are also fo Chinese, American, Spanish and even Arab descent.
  • Strategic Location - The country lies at the center of Asia making it readily accessible and a natural mecca for commerce.
  • Professional Workforce - Filipinos are among the best educated and easily trainable workers.
  • English Fluency - English, being the universal language, Filipinos could speak and write English with ease.
  • Wide Variety of Scenic Spots - The country could boast of diverse tourist attractions from white sand beaches, lush green forests, majestic mountain peaks, age-old structures, and breath-taking landscapes.
  • Shoppers' Paradise - Visitors could shop either on city shopping malls or even flea markets where bargaining can truly be a unique experience.
  • Recreation and Entertainment Center - The country has numerous parks and challenging golf courses. Key cities offer a wide variety of entertainment facilities like concert halls, theaters and discos.


Strategies

The Department of Tourism has been promoting the Philippines through the hub and spokes approach being an archipelagic nation. With this strategy, the country is offering a wealth of vacation possibilities through the identification of major tourism hubs:

  • Manila and its Spokes - covers Cebu and outlying areas.
  • Laoag/Baguio and its Spokes - covering the Northern Luzon areas
  • Clark/Subic and its Spokes - focusing on the Central Luzon and nearby areas.
  • Davao and its Spokes - major tourism hub in the Mindanao areas.
  • Others and its Spokes - this would cover the Bicol region.



Still, another flagship program initiated by the Department of Tourism is the Tourism Volunteer 12 Programs. A brainchild of Secretary Richard J. Gordon, it aims to mobilize the estimated 7.38 M overseas Filipinos as "Tourism Volunteers". If each of these overseas Filipinos can bring only one tourist a year to the Philippines, that would easily translate into 7.38 M visitors.

This spirit of volunteerism could easily offset the lack of promotional budget of the Philippines. Based on statistics, the country lags behind our tourism rivals in the ASEAN region like Thailand, Hongkong, Malaysia and Singapore. Malaysia and Singapore spent US$70 M, Hong Kong-US$66 M, Thailand-US$45 M, as against the measly US$660,000 tourism promotions budget of the Philippines based on year 2000 comparative tourism indicators.

For the initial 6months of its implementation, the V-12 tourism program earns P110 M in tourism receipts, it has already attracted 9,000 overseas Filipinos and 2,046 foreign tourists. In order to boost the program, selected companies offer incentive packages to tourism volunteers. Tourists also enjoy shopping incentives, discounts and other privileges.

Key Tourism Benefits

Several benefits from the tourism industry could be availed by the receiving country such as:

  • Export Earnings - Tourism is a major export earner and an important factor in the balance of payments of the country.
  • Employment - tourism industry is an important job creator, employing about 100 million people around the world based on World Tourism Organization statistics.
  • Rural Opportunities - tourism jobs and services help equalize economic opportunities throughout a nation as economic activities are also created in underdeveloped regions of the country.
  • Infrastructure Investment - influx of tourists stimulates enormous investments in infrastructure like airports, seaports, roads, bridges, landmarks that help improve the living conditions of the people.
  • Tax Revenues - tourism contributes to the resource generation of revenues for the government coffers.
  • Gross Domestic Product - the World Tourism Organization estimates that up to 10 percent of the world's annual Gross Domestic Product came from tourism revenues.


Industry Prospects

Business players and policy makers are optimistic that despite the tourism slump the country has been experiencing for the past 2-3 years, the industry would bounce back starting this year. Statistics on tourist arrivals has been decreasing from 2.17M in 1999 to 1.99M in 2000 and 1.8M in 2001.

They opined that in less than five years, we will have a huge market to look for, provided we do our homework right. China will be our best customer if we know how to sell ourselves. Add Japan and Korea and we have a sure market. Records would show that the number of Japanese and Korean tourists reached 343,840 and 207,957 respectively, last year. Data from the World Tourism Organization cited that China's outbound market is on the upsurge and estimated to reach 100 M by the year 2020. Tapping these potential markets would be a challenge to Filipino ingenuity. We have started enticing Chinese nationals to visit the country with the visa-on-arrival policy being implemented in the country.

With the "Visit Philippines Year 2003", the country is expected to experience a tourism boom beginning this year. An estimated 3 million tourists are expected to visit the country in 2003. This would generate additional livelihood for Filipinos and improve the socio-economic condition of the country.

Common Competencies of Tourism Workers

In general, tourism workers need to be equipped with basic competencies irregardless of position, rank and salary, to include:

  1. Analytical Competencies - consisting of working knowledge in mathematics, basic computer applications and cost analysis.
  2. Behavioral Competencies - customer service, human relations, professional ethics and even history and culture.
  3. Communication Competencies - aside from English working of Japanese, Chinese, French and other languages would be advantageous. It also includes ability in report writing and filling-up of company forms.
  4. Other Basic Competencies would deal on electricity, geography, environmental practices, hygiene, safety and housekeeping.
 
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