Tourists flock to surfing spots in Baler, Aurora during summer. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

SINGLING OUT President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., as the chief executive most supportive of tourism, the travel industry said it is hoping the support will continue in the form of infrastructure projects that help raise access to destinations.

Roberto Z. Zozobrado, Tourism Congress of the Philippines president, told reporters at a travel expo in Pasig City last week that he expects continued programs addressing the industry’s concerns when Mr. Marcos delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 24.

“No other President in the past has given so much emphasis to the tourism industry as Mr. Marcos has. We hope that continues,” Mr. Zozobrado said.

Mr. Zozobrado said on top of the industry’s wish list is infrastructure support to improve connectivity to the destinations.

“I would have expected the government to move faster (on infrastructure) since some of the bridges are damaged or may be impassable soon. They have to work fast on these things,” Mr. Zozobrado said.

The government should also tell other government agencies “to work together with the Department of Tourism (DoT) so that we can improve on our shortcomings,” he added.

Michelle G. Taylan, Travel Sale Expo 2023 chair, said in separate remarks to reporters that Mr. Marcos should also crack down on “fly-by-night” travel agencies that are crowding out legitimate businesses.

“I hope Mr. Marcos mentions strict monitoring of travel agencies that are operating fly-by-night because they affect the tourism industry,” Ms. Taylan said.

Ms. Taylan, general manager of Klik ‘N Fly Travel and Tours and a former Philippine Travel Agencies Association president, said typical issues with less-established travel firms are the inability of travelers to reach a contact person after plane tickets or travel packages are purchased.

“Customers are getting scammed with very cheap tickets that are not confirmed at the airport,” Ms. Taylan said.

The Department of Tourism estimates international visitor arrivals at 2.67 million as of June 29.

It has a target of 4.8 million foreign visitors this year, against actual arrivals of 2.65 million in 2022.

South Korea accounted for 665,757 travelers as of late June, followed by the US (509,526), Australia (128,232), Japan (127,139), and Canada (123,439).

Preliminary estimates from the Philippine Statistics Authority indicate that the tourism industry accounted for 6.2% of country’s gross domestic product last year, higher than the 5.2% share in 2021. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave