D.O.T. must have more power over tourism infra funds–solons


THE House of Representatives will be introducing legislation to amend Republic Act 9393, otherwise known as the Tourism Act of 2009, to allow the Department of Tourism (DOT) to gain a more comprehensive control of the tourism development in the country.

Speaking at the Tourism Stakeholders’ National Summit on Wednesday, Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona, chairman of the chamber’s Committee on Tourism, said the revisions “will give more teeth to the Department of Tourism… and make them be on top of the funding of tourism industries. In spite of its mandate [to develop and promote tourism], it has no say on tourism infrastructure.”

At present, tourism infrastructure projects are carried out by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), an attached agency of the DOT. But funding is limited to how much Tieza collects in terms of travel taxes, of which it retains 50 percent. For instance, Tieza plans to resume the implementation of infrastructure projects  in local government units (LGUs) this year, but this will still be subject to the availability of funds. (See, “Tieza to resume implementation of at least 82 LGU projects halted by coronavirus pandemic,” in the BusinessMirror, March 8, 2023.)

The DOT also has a convergence program with the Department of Public Works and Highways for the construction of roads that will connect gateways to key destinations in the country.

New tourism slogan by mid-year

Meanwhile, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco revealed an “enhanced” tourism slogan will  be rolled out, likely replacing the popular It’s More Fun in the Philippines tagline. “The Philippines continues to have its existing slogan, which has been around for 12 years, and this mid-year we are launching an enhanced and evolved Filipino slogan that will reflect the best of the best of the Philippines and the Filipino brand,” she told reporters after the summit.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco unveils the goals under the National Tourism Development Plan 2023-2028 in a national summit with tourism stakeholders on March 15, 2023 at the Sheraton Manila Bay. The NTDP is a blueprint of strategies to help the country transform into a ‘tourism powerhouse of Asia.’ (Photo by Stella Arnaldo)

Tourism stakeholders groups have been lobbying for the retention  of the ‘fun’ slogan because of its effectivity. Even Senator Nancy Binay, chair of the chamber’s Committee on Tourism, cited other countries that have not been changing their respective slogan for years. Thailand, which has been using Amazing Thailand for the last two decades, launched a new branding campaign at the recent ITB Berlin, with a play on the same tagline —Visit Thailand Year 2023: Amazing New Chapters.

About 350 representatives from government agencies, LGUs, tourism stakeholders’ associations and organizations attended the National Summit held at the Sheraton Manila Bay Hotel. In her presentation, Frasco unveiled the long-awaited National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) for 2023-2028, a blueprint of strategies and projects to transform the Philippines into a “tourism powerhouse in Asia.”

She noted, “The Philippines is already a global destination upon the strength of our islands and beaches, our diving and biodiversity, and our hospitality as a people. Our future growth hinges on investments in meetings and conventions, health and wellness, lifestyle and entertainment, as well as domestic and international cruising. But most importantly, becoming a truly global destination demands that we provide an authentic Filipino experience for our visitors—creating distinctly Filipino experiences through our food and farms, our fashion and festivals, our arts and crafts, our traditions and practices, and the Filipino brand of service,”

In consultation with tourism stakeholders, the NTDP’s goals are: the improvement  of tourism infrastructure  accessibility, Cohesive and Comprehensive Digitalization and Connectivity, Enhancement of Overall Tourist Experience, Equalization of Tourism Product Development and Promotion, Diversification of Portfolio through Multidimensional Tourism, Maximization of Domestic and International Tourism, and Strengthening Tourism Governance through Close Collaborations with National and Local Stakeholders.