House panel okays measure on task force for int’l visitor assistance

MANILA -- A House of Representatives' panel has approved a measure that seeks to establish an intergovernmental task force for international visitor assistance to make the Philippines a premiere travel and tourism destination in the world.

The House Committee on Tourism, headed by Leyte Rep. Lucy Gomez, has approved House Bill No. 2963 or the Visit Philippines Act of 2016, which was authored by former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Under her bill, the Secretary of Tourism will establish an Intergovernmental Task Force for International Visitor Assistance that will carry out a multi-lingual travel and tourism information program to facilitate international visitor's travel in the country.

The said task force shall be composed of the Tourism Secretary as Chairman with the Secretaries of Interior and Local Government and Transportation and Information and Communications Technology as members, as well as other representatives of other government agencies and the private sector.

The task force shall implement uniform standards on signage to be used in the Philippines, most particularly airports, seaports, land border crossings, highways, bus and train stations and other public transit locations in order to assist international visitors.

Arroyo also proposed the establishment of toll-free, private sector operated telephone number staffed by multilingual operators to provide assistance to international tourists coping with an emergency.

The tourism industry has been branded as an "engine of economic growth" given its capacity to boost and jumpstart any economy especially countries like the Philippines, Arroyo said in her explanatory note.

That is why there is a need for government to adopt and implement an integrated approach to tourism development to be able to realize its full potential as an important economic tool necessary for national development, she added.

Source: Philippine News Agency