July 30, 2011, Tempo

The government is stepping up its marketing strategy to draw in more tourists. The work includes the upgrade of airport facilities. It expects to finish the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport 1 by November 15 this year.

Public-private partnership (PPP), the core program of the Aquino Administration, is being tapped to modernize the international gateways such as the international airports in Laoag City, Clark, and Subic, as well as Puerto Princesa, Cebu-Mactan and Panglao, and build new facilities in Mindanao, such as Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and Zamboanga International Airports, and Kalibo in Aklan, to service destinations like Boracay and Bohol.

The goal is to increase the number of tourists to 6.3 million international arrivals and over 32 million domestic travelers by 2016.

The major effort for foreign tourists centers on the theme of “undiscovered treasures and hidden gems,” referring to such attractions such as natural landscapes, underwater activities, nightlife, shopping and bargain hunting, native and fusion cuisines, historical sites, beautiful beaches and resorts, the rich culture and tradition of indigenous peoples, and rare flora and fauna. Identified top domestic tourist destinations are Metro Manila, Camarines Sur, Cebu, Davao City, Cagayan Valley, Baguio, Boracay, Zambales, Puerto Princesa, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Camiguin Island, and Ilocos Norte. The top five foreign markets for Philippine tourism – ranked for the first six months of 2011 – were South Korea, United States, Japan, China, and Australia. An additional budget has been allocated for international tourism promotion in the Asia-Pacific, United States and Canada.

As government develops more initiatives for a sustained tourism growth, it is expected that in the long term the industry will generate more revenues and create more jobs, especially in the countryside.