MANILA — At least 6.3 million international arrivals and over 32 million domestic travelers by 2016.

This is the first cut of the stakeholder developed goal of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) as previewed by Secretary Alberto Aldaba Lim in a press conference at the Department of Tourism (DOT) building in Manila recently.

Lim explained that the plan, still in the draft phase will be completed by June and will be presented to President Benigno Aquino III in July, “The President considers tourism as a frontliner and revenue driver in reducing poverty so we want to make sure that the development of tourism is more sustainable and inclusive.”

The vision of the tourism roadmap is to become the “must experience” destination in Asia.

To achieve that, Lim said that they are focusing on three key strategies:

1) improving market access and connectivity,

2) developing and market competitive tourist destinations and products, and

3) improving tourism institutional, governance, and human resource capacities.

To improve market access and connectivity, DOT plans to push for the rapid expansion of the capacity of secondary international airports and addressing bottlenecks at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), strengthening compliance with international air safety regulations, adopt policies that facilitate the expansion of air services and visa-free access in key growth markets, and to work with the DOT and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to implement a strategic access infrastructure development program between secondary international airports and strategic destinations.

To develop and market competitive tourist destinations and products, DOT will work with the related national government agencies, and local government units (LGUs) to implement a sustainable tourism transportation and destination infrastructure development program in the strategic destinations, facilitate the development of mixed-use tourism complexes and community-based tourism programs in the strategic destinations, implement a mandatory tourism enterprise accreditation and certification system, facilitate tourism investment and simplify business set-up and licensing procedures, enhance efforts to safeguard natural and cultural heritage sites and vulnerable groups, and roll out a major public-private sector funded marketing campaign targeting key growth markets.


To improve tourism institutional, governance and human resource capacities, Lim said “we will sit down with the LGUs to clarify institutional roles and responsibilities between the DOT and LGUs and undertake awareness and capacity building programs at the local level; work with the private sector, DOLE and CHED and TESDA to develop a highly competent, well motivated and productive tourism workforce; and improve governance in the area of safety, security, and in dealing with tourists, tourism investors, and tourism enterprises at the national and local levels.”

The tourism chief also explained that their development approach is via the inclusive destination concept where the department has identified 25 strategic thematic tourism destination clusters covering 77 tourism development areas (TDA).

The plan has eight strategic clusters each in Northern Philippines (North Luzon, CAR, Calabarzon, NCR) covering 27 tourism development areas, and Central Philippines (Mimaropa, Bicol, the Visayas) covering 24 TDAs; and, 9 strategic clusters in the Southern Philippines (Mindanao) covering 26 TDAs.

The international gateways for Northern Philippines are the international airports of Laoag, Clark and Subic, and Manila.

For Central Philippines, these are Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, Cebu-Mactan and Panglao.

And, for Southern Philippines, we have Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Zamboanga international airports.

The secretary noted that other airports such as Kalibo would continue to be able to avail of direct charter international air services to service international tourists seeking to move directly to nearby destinations such as Boracay Island.

Lim said there needs a lot to be done such as: finalizing the list of transportation and infrastructure projects to be done and their respective cost estimates, packaging these projects for implementation and financing, arranging and scheduling these packages of works, assessing the broad economic returns of the investment, and delivering the remaining non-infrastructure outputs.

Priority areas for investment include investments to facilitate international travel through international airports, investments to improve travel from an international airport to main destinations, investments to expand capacity of destinations to sustain tourist growth, and investments to support activities of interest, including visits to key tourist sites.

Within each category of investment, the priority of any given project should depend upon the extent to which the project builds on existing structures; is part of an integrated project approach to achieve a critical mass in funding; contributes to environmental protection and safeguarding; and delivers a high rate of economic return, job creation, income, poverty reduction and tax receipts to the government.

The NTDP was crafted after extensive consultations via workshops, focused groups and individual interviews were undertaken with more than a thousand stakeholders in 16 regions of the country.

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