Palace cites upsurge in foreign tourists visiting PHL

MANILA-- MalacaAang welcomed the continuing influx of foreign visitors in the country after the Philippines' hit a four-year high on foreign tourist arrivals.

Foreign tourists chose to ignore the political noise and believe that it's really more fun in the Philippines, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing in MalacaAang on Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Abella noted that a total of 579,178 visitors were recorded in February or an increase of 27.81 percent over the past four years, adding that it is 5.36 percent higher than the same period last year.

Abella, meanwhile, assured foreign tourists that more improvements are to be expected in the country, noting the Duterte administration's Build-Build-Build projects, which include tourism infrastructure such as airports, railways, and road networks.

Millions of jobs will be generated in the transport and tourism sectors as we usher in the Golden Age of Infrastructure within the next five years. We therefore hope to make the tourism sector not only sustainable and competitive but also socially responsible to bring comfortable lives to all Filipinos, Abella said.

Abella likewise lauded New York-based global debt watcher S&P Global Ratings' stable outlook on the Philippines, saying that it resonates the satisfactory effects of the country's policy in fiscal and debt metrics.

S&P expects the country's Gross Domestic Product to grow annually by 4.9 percent or around USD 2,950 GDP per capita within the next four years.

The stable outlook on the Philippine economy also shows that policies continue to provide a favorable environment for sustained growth, he said, adding that the country's BBB long-term credit rating reflects the country's strong external position and adequate capacity to meet financial commitments.

In the same briefing, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Executive Director for ASEAN Affairs Zaldy Patron said the Philippines has successfully hosted the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit over the weekend, noting that the leaders had a fruitful discussion on important issues in ASEAN.

Patron said the ASEAN leaders noted the bloc's improving cooperation with China.

They looked forward to the completion of a framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea by middle of this year, in order to facilitate the early conclusion of an effective COC, Patron said.

Whereas before, China and ASEAN Member States do not even want to start discussion on the framework of Code of Conduct. But under the Philippine chairmanship, we have seen a lot of movements in the discussion and China has already made an announcement that it's also supportive of having a framework of the COC. So that is something that we would like to take advantage of. It's a step forward to having a full and effective COC, he added.

Patron meanwhile said the ASEAN leaders expressed grave concern over recent developments in the Korean Peninsula.

They urged the DPRK to immediately comply fully with its obligations arising from all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, Patron said.

The 30th ASEAN Summit also saw the signing by the Leaders of the ASEAN Declaration on the Role of the Civil Service as a Catalyst for Achieving the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

The declaration recognizes the significance of the civil service as the backbone of good governance and a catalyst in building the ASEAN Community.

Source: Philippines News Agency