JULY 11, 2008
(STAR) By Mayen Jaymalin - Despite the spiraling cost of travel and the prevailing global economic slump, the Department of Tourism (DOT) expects more foreign tourists to visit the country.

Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano reported that the number of foreign visitors coming to the country is still growing by seven to nine percent at this time even as many worldwide reel from the oil crisis.

“As we have previously projected, the growth of tourist arrivals is still within the range of seven to nine percent on a year-on-year basis,” he explained.

“I believe the Philippine tourism industry will continue to grow despite the challenges and the global economic slump,” he said.

Durano noted that the DOT was able to position the country’s tourist destinations in Europe and in other emerging markets, whose economies continue to grow.

“Our past marketing mission is now fueling the growth momentum we are experiencing at this time,” he said.

The increasing cost of transport, Durano said, is partly absorbed by all the components of the tourism supply chain, so that the cost to be passed down to the tourist is very minimal.

“We were also able to introduce in the market at the right time higher value tourism products like wellness, medical education, and shopping which contributes to higher spending by tourists in the country,” Durano pointed out.

In the first quarter of the year, DOT reported that the local tourism industry has already generated earnings of $1.02 billion with the arrival of more foreign tourists in the country.

Durano said tourist spending reached $1.02 billion in the first quarter of the year alone as the country continues to capture more big-spending foreign tourists.

Meanwhile, the DOT signed with the Ministry of Tourism of India an agreement providing for the implementation of projects mutually benefiting the travel industries of both countries.

“Tourist arrivals from India to our islands grew at an average of 11.4 percent over the past five years. With the many things happening for the Philippines with regard to this market, the signing comes at an opportune time to discuss ways and means that will enable both countries to seize the potentials and enhance tourist traffic,” Durano said in a statement.

The agreement includes a seven-day exchange program to allow each party to share experiences in tourism product creation, promotion and marketing, cultural and medical tourism as well as manpower and infrastructure development.

The two parties will further look into enhancing the industry’s human resources by organizing and facilitating seminars, workshops and conferences with focus on cultural and ecological tourism, hospitality, health and wellness tourism.

The plan also states the participation in travel fairs and other similar events organized in both the Philippines and India. This will provide a venue for travel agents, hotels and resorts, transport services and other tourism-related establishments to meet for potential tie-ups and other business prospects.

Business missions, trade invitational events and discussions will be set up to further promote investment in the tourism sector. The DOT and its Indian counterpart will also establish a transfer system for relevant updates and data.

At the moment, air transport services between the countries include stopovers at either Singapore or Malaysia. The DOT sees the cooperative projects to strategically increase travel in the long term and thus create a stronger demand for seats.

Indian tourist arrivals from January to May 2008 grew by 24.4 percent over the same period last year while expenditures reached $53.9 million in 2007.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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