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PHL sees 10M tourist arrivals in next five years

PHL sees 10M tourist arrivals in next five years

By Lily O Ramos

MANILA, Feb. 9 (PNA)–Department of Tourism expressed optimism that the tourism industry in now trailing a road to recovery as tourist arrivals reached 3.9 million in 2011, significantly exceeding the 3.2 million goal for the year.

The Tourism department is even optimistic that tourist arrivals will reach a 10-million mark in the next five years since Filipinos and industry stakeholders are promoting the country as a first class vacation place for both foreign and local tourists.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. on Wednesday said the Philippines started getting over the hump in the tourism sector after it exceeded the 3.9 million visitors arrivals in 2011.

“Now, we have to start working to get into 10 million tourists by year 2016. Once we achieve that target, it will mean we would be truly competitive among our Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) big-getters like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia,” said Jimenez.

Jimenez, whom the Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) named as responsible for bringing harmony to the tourism industry, said that finally, the Filipinos were beginning to learn to accept and say:”It’s my job and source of pride to promote my country.”

Philtoa is the biggest body of Philippine tour operators.

“After meeting headlong challenges like negative advisories from foreign embassies regarding security threat, some bad publicity here and abroad and lack of infrastructure, we are now on the road to recovery with our slogan, “It’s really more fun in the Philippines,” Jimenez said.

He said that in the first place, it was the people’s superior ability to make the Philippines a first class vacation place — the biggest factor that attracts tourists/visitors to come and stay even longer than their usual schedule.

Jimenez said that the Filipinos’ way of making foreigners comfortable and well-taken care of was something that could not be replicated by other nationalities.

“Our constant smiling despite unlucky or painful experiences make us strong but genial people who know how to enjoy life,” he said.

Meanwhile, Philtoa members expressed their full support to Jimenez by adopting the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” campaign for the 23rd Philippine Travel Mart (PTM), the biggest annual travel trade show in the country showcasing Philippine tourism destinations and offering big discounted tour packages.

Using the slogan as the official theme, the event to be held at SMX Convention Center on August 10 to 12, is set to boost the campaign for sustainable domestic and inbound tourism.

With the recent developments, organizers of the 2012 PTM, expect an increase in both the number of participants and visitors.

Last year’s expo recorded a total of 76,195 individuals in foot traffic, which generated a total of P32,801.280.79 gross sales.

Contributing to the event’s success was the huge participation of tour operators from among the country’s finest travel locations, which comprised a total of 366 booths from 179 companies during the three-day event last Sept. 2 to 4, 2011 at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.

Philtoa president Cesar Cruz said that ultimately, any campaign would only be as good as its product. Cruz is a longtime advocate of sustainable tourism.

“We believe that community-based tourism projects products, coupled with experiential activities such as eco-adventure and cultural thematic tours will be the way to go if the country really wants to meet its projections,” said Cruz. (PNA)

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