PDOT Earns Accolades

Tourism in the Philippines is growing

By: Terra Judge

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Philippines’ tourism campaign has been rated as the best-improved in Asia, with a 14 percent annual tourism growth rate, the highest in Southeast Asia.

The niche marketing campaign, created by Secretary Joseph Durano, aims to heighten foreign interest in the region, with the goal of welcoming five million foreign tourists to the country by 2010.

In 2006 alone, the Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) tourism campaign was able to generate $2.72 billion in tourism-related revenue.

Tourism from North America in particular is on the rise with a 4 percent increase of U.S. visitors from Jan.-April of 2007, compared to the same period in 2006. Visitor arrivals from Canada have risen 10.8 percent during those periods.

PDOT is increasing its efforts to attract not just first-time visitors, but repeat visitors as well. Increased efforts are also being made to promote the Philippines as a health, wellness and beauty tourism destination, and further the country’s strong reputation for eco-tourism offerings.

This campaign is aimed at markets in North America, Japan, Korea, China, India, and Europe.

“Efforts are already being set in place to accommodate the increase in arrivals,” noted Durano.

Many prominent companies have also shown increased interest in the Philippines, including Texas Instruments, a leading technology solutions company, which invested $1 billion in the Philippines, expanding its operations in the country. Along with many other large investments from various global organizations and a sustained growth in economy since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took office in 2001 the Philippines has seen a large influx of capital with which it has been able to fund projects aimed at improving its tourism infrastructure.

This new infrastructure plan includes the addition of 20,000 hotel rooms, including luxury resorts, and major improvements to international and secondary airports through the country. Two new airports will be opened in Central Philippines, which has recently been declared the country’s “Super Tourism Region” with a three-year plan to further develop the region, while at the same time protecting the natural resources that make it an eco-tourism destination.

One of the Philippines’ strengths is the diversity that exists across the 7,107 islands that make up the region. There are over 32 eco-tourism sites, including 27 protected areas such as Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park in Palawan, comprised of two distinct reef systems separated by a four-mile channel. Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is located along the Sulu Sea and is a major nesting spot for endangered sea turtles as well as rare species of fish such as the unusual foxface rabbitfish.
The Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in cooperation with the Development Academy of the Philippines, has created eco-tourism training modules for local government units, designed to ensure proper management and protection of valuable sites.

PDOT also recently launched a Grassroots Entrepreneurs for Eco-Tourism initiative to help individuals and concerned groups in their actions to protect the environment.