DOT vows improved PHL tourism ranking

MANILA-- Secretary Wanda Teo on Tuesday said the Department of Tourism (DOT) is determined to improve the Philippine ranking in the World Economic Forum's latest Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report.

Teo made this assurance after the Philippines dropped five notches in the latest edition of the report ranking 79th out of 136 countries this year. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines ranked third to the last.

The report cited the Philippines' lower competitiveness performance resulting from the country's restrictive visa policy safety and security concerns, poor infrastructure and environment policies.

Teo, in a statement, said the DOT has made appropriate representations with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to relax the visa policy and process, especially on China.

She said the agency's National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) also advocates for concerned agencies to review visa policies for India and Middle East as potential markets.

Although there has been a reduction in the DOT budgets for 2016 and 2017 due to the completion of activities in the NTDP 2011 to 2016, Teo assured that the administration is preparing to submit to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) a new budget proposal that will include funds for an intensified branding campaign, supporting international events and conferences in the country and construction of access roads to new destinations.

Teo also said that improvements at major international airports and secondary gateways in the 2015 to 2016 are now being fast-tracked.

Moreover, the DOT has pursued the grant of tax incentives for Tourism Enterprise Zone (TEZ) operators. The non-issuance of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) regulation in the past six years has adversely affected investment interests in TEZ.

The Duterte administration is certainly taking steps to boost tourism sustainability and inclusivity, by improving business climate and creating jobs with new policies and measures being instituted at both national and local levels, Teo said.

Teo said that it was no surprised that the Philippines' ranking in the latest Travel and Tourism Competitiveness has taken a slight dip.

Being fully aware of the challenges faced by the tourism sector during the last decade, and which the Department of Tourism has painstakingly addressed in the last nine months, the DOT does not find surprising the slight drop of the Philippines' ranking in the latest Travel and Competitive Report, Teo said.

However, she said that the DOT will take cognizance of the report as a significant study, a useful resource in planning and prioritization.

She said she was hopeful that the DOT's professional and dedicated staff, a team-up of new blood and DOT veterans who constantly and consistently address urgent issues at hand.

The Secretary also said that it is sticking to its target of acquiring 7-million foreign tourist arrivals by yearend.

Source: Philippines News Agency