Tourism plan drafted for admin after President Aquino: official

THE tourism industry is drafting a plan that can be implemented between 2017-2022 that will be submitted to the new administration when President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III steps down from office on June 30, 2016.

But Tourism Assistance Secretary Arturo P. Boncato Jr. said the plan has to be “tentative” because it will depend whether the next administration will implement it, modify or even shelve it. “But this will be a well-thought of plan,” he said.

He said industry stakeholders have yet to finalize also the focus of the plan as the country breached the five million mark in visitor arrivals: whether to focus on quality or quantity.

“We are now thinking do we want the numbers or we want the revenues as the focus (of the plan)?”  Boncato told the TIMES even as he said he hopes the next administration will push for what the plan will specify.

He said the next plan needs to take the focus seriously because “it will define our direction (in promoting the country as a destination.”

The debate on the focus of the plan is whether to target the number of tourists, or come up with program that will focus on the threshold of tourists but will result in expected higher revenues.

There are huge numbers of visitors but the spend lesser, while there are those who are low in number but spend more, depending on what can be offered to them by the destinations.

He said the tourist destinations must first identify who among the visitors they want to come and create products that will suit the visitors.

“Quality and experience (of visitors) we have to work on,” he said, adding that this is important for the tourists to return. He said that to make this work, the local destinations must have offerings that are at par with the global standards.

Among the key issues that must continue to be addressed, although he did not provide initial numbers as well as how much has the government spent, is continuing the work on roads leading to destinations, he said.

Providing an estimate of about P60 billion being spent on tourism roads, he said the collaboration among government agencies in ensuring that roads to hard to reach tourist destinations are paved has become among the key components in luring more tourists to these destinations.

Based on the report of the National Economic and Development Agency in the Davao Region, as of September, 836 kilometers of national arterial roads and 819 kilometers of national secondary roads in the region were paved. However, the report did not distinguish what parts of these roads were leading to tourist destinations.

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