In celebration of the Philippine travel industry’s rise
It is something of an understatement to call the Philippines a tourism hotspot. If the country could only be known for any one thing, it would be the beauty of its natural heritage, the expansive cuisine, and the hospitality of its people.
The age of the Internet and globalization has only cemented the country’s reputation, with many tourists from overseas coming to the Philippines to explore its pristine beaches and sample its exotic food. In fact, a total of 4,852,107 international visitors were recorded from January to July this year alone.
Tourism has proven to be a significant pillar for the country’s economic development, as it grew by in the past 10 years (2009-2010).
“Revenue from arrivals is 24.24% higher versus the same period in 2018, translating to about P298.81 billion in inbound receipts in just the first seven months of the year,” Department of Tourism (DoT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said.
For the month of July this year alone, 18.06% more inbound arrivals were recorded than in 2018 for a total 719,057 visitors. Tourism generated an estimated P53.47 billion during that time, the highest month in terms of receipts and 53.64% higher than the same month last year.
Tourist per capita expenditure — the sum of expenditure made by inbound tourists for travel costs and consumption in the country — reportedly rose to $1,263.96 or 40.39% higher than July 2018.
The numbers mark 12.36% increase from the same period of last year’s figures with the peak season months of November to December remaining, according to the DoT.
In 2018, the Philippines welcomed 7.1 million international visitors compared to 2009 where there were only three million foreign arrivals.
The tourism decade and onwards
The tourism industry is booming, and many Filipinos are enjoying its benefits. By 2018, 13% of total employment — 5.4 million jobs — was directly attributed to the tourism sector.
“The positive growth of the tourism industry today is because of the innovations of the Tourism Act of 2009. The law has enabled the nation to develop the sector to provide inclusive growth to communities all over the country,” said Ms. Puyat.
Signed into law on May 12, 2009 by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Tourism Act was authored by Senator Richard J. Gordon and 1st District of Bohol Representative Edgardo M. Chatto.
Since the enactment of Tourism Act in 2009, foreign arrivals have more than doubled, growing from three million in 2009 to 7.1 million individuals by the end of 2018. Before the full implementation of the law, in 2009 total employment in the tourism industry was only at 3.9 million.
In celebration of the law’s massive achievement, the DoT will launch a year-long campaign titled “Tourism Decade: Celebrating the Rise of the Philippine Travel Industry with the Tourism Act of 2009,” which will narrate how the RA 9593 has significantly improved the lives of thousands of individuals and communities.
The DoT launched the campaign with the release of its latest video, a microsite with mini-documentaries and the opening of the multi-media exhibition, Onwards: The Philippine Tourism in Intramuros. The launch event was held at Museo de Intramuros on September 27, 2019.
Through the stories of the people from the tourism sector, and those that dedicated their lives to making meaningful and memorable experience for visitors, the government hopes to spread awareness about the transformative power of the tourism industry, and how it can lead the country towards growth.
“The Tourism Decade celebration is an event not only to commemorate the law, but also to honor the travel industry’s contributions to the improvement of the lives of the Filipino people, and to bring attention to tourism’s functions as an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development,” Ms. Puyat said in her keynote speech.
“If not for the implementation of Tourism Act, it would have been difficult for us to see the rising impact of the tourism industry on the country’s economic progress over the years, reaching a 12.7% contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2018. This continued growth has proven tourism’s direct linkages to various socio-economic development activities that have been helping improve our people’s quality of life,” she added.
The campaign features the stories of Whang-Od, the century-old Mambabatok of Kalinga; Rambo, the dog tour guide of Batad, Ifugao; the Deafinite Tour Guiding Service of Intramuros for its deaf-friendly tours; the Lake Pandin Women Rafters of San Pablo, Laguna; and Bobby Adrao, an advocate for whale shark protection in Donsol, Sorsogon.
Further down south, the campaign also puts the spotlight on two Puerto Princesa locals: Angelo Cayabo, a former dishwasher who established dolphin-watching tours in Palawan; and Eva Valledor, founder of Binuatan Creations, a successful sustainable community livelihood program famous for their weaved products. It also covered the experiences of the Loboc River Choir in Bohol; Laida Escoltura, a known home cook from General Luna, Siargao; and the indigenous T’Boli people of South Cotabato who exemplify how cultural tourism can enhance Philippine living traditions.
Throughout the campaign, DoT plans to add more stories about more people who will forever be part of its more fun tourism story. There will be an exhibition for the public to explore the impact of the act in more detail called “Onwards: The Philippine Tourism Decade Exhibition” which has two parts: the outdoor and interactive installation at Plaza Roma; and the indoor exhibition in San Ignacio Church, both located inside Intramuros’ historic walls.
Today, Sept. 30, a preview of the exhibition is open while DoT continues to collect stories nominated by different regions which will also be featured in the exhibition.
Featured at the indoor exhibition are portraits of the DoT tourism workers and documentary shows.