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DOT sees domestic trips recovering to 122 million in 2023

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THE Department of Tourism (DOT) sees the full recovery of the domestic travelers business this year, and the international arrivals in 2024.

In her first meeting with the multi-agency Tourism Coordinating Council (TCC)  on Monday, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco presented a draft of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) for 2023-2028, a blueprint of strategies and projects for the country to be able to reach annual domestic and international tourist arrivals along with the foreign and local visitors receipts.

“Even as the pandemic set back our gains, the momentum for recovery and growth is already here. We see domestic tourism recovering to 2019 levels this year, and international tourism next year,” she said.  In 2019, domestic trips reached some 122 million, generating expenditures of P3.1 trillion. Foreign tourist arrivals that year hit an historic-high of 8.26 million with receipts reaching P482.15 billion.

As community quarantine levels eased, Filipinos started traveling around the industry, and helped prop up the tourism industry. The hotel sector recently reported that occupancy levels have hit 80 percent largely due to domestic tourists. (See, “15 hotels, spas in  Metro Manila win Forbes’ Star Awards,” in the BusinessMirror, February 20, 2023.) No  domestic tourism data is available yet for 2022.

The TCC was created by Republic Act 9593 (Tourism Act of 2009) and is  composed of 25 government agencies, with the DOT serving as its chair.  It serves a coordinating body to discuss policies and efforts to push the development of the tourism sector.

During the meeting held at the Philippine International Convention Center, Frasco outlined the programs and projects currently being implemented to improve the traveler’s experience. Among these  are the construction of tourist pit stops, the incorporation of the “Filipino brand” at the nation’s airports, and internet connectivity in 94 tourist destinations.

Projects in the pipeline include a one-stop-shop app for tourists to be able to book their visits to the Philippines, a call center to respond to tourist emergencies, and an agreement with the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior Labor and Government to ensure peace and security in tourist destinations.

“The possibilities for Philippine tourism are endless. With your continued support we will accomplish our goals for a tourism industry that is a major economic pillar for our country,” the DOT chief told attendees.

During the meeting, the agency asked TCC members for their comments and inputs to the NTDP 2023-2028, with the final version to be revealed in March. “This National Tourism Development Plan for 2023 to 2028 envisions the Philippines  as a tourism powerhouse of Asia, that is anchored in the Filipino identity, on sustainability, resilience, and global competitiveness, and that benefits the Filipino people,” said Frasco.

Among those who attended the TCC meeting were Tourism Congress of the Philippines president Roberto Zozobrado, Transportation Undersecretary Roberto C. Lim, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Gina Jamoralin, National Commission for Culture and the Arts Executive Director Oscar G. Casaysay, Philippine National Police Deputy Chief for Operations PLT Gen. Benjamin Santos Jr., OIC-Executive Director of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines Carmina Arevalo, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Vice President for Marketing Ricardo B. Faraon, and officials of the DOT and its attached agencies.

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