Philippine tourism in the next six years. Hopefully.

The new secretary of tourism has briefly outlined his plans for the next six years. It makes sense. You can read the full article here.

I’ll just lift some excerpts.

I would like to go for quality tourism and just make up for the lack of (tourist) numbers in revenues,” he said.

This sounds really good because it’s forward-looking. I also agree that we’re trying to copy other countries’ strategy in luring tourists. It’s quality over quantity because over time, this will always be the bottom line.

Unbridled tourism is also bad because the environment suffers. So we are very careful about the type of tourism we want. The people who come for culture, history and nature, maybe we can receive them.

Why not invest on our strengths? We have different stories, cuisines, dances, and churches all over these god-given islands. We have diversity and it should be our strength. It is this uniqueness that we aren’t exploring fully. I also think that we should do away with fiestas that aren’t deeply rooted in folk tradition and it seems like it was created to have some buzz in their place, which unfortunately looks like a watered down version of a mardi gras or ati-atihan festivities.

I remember my river cruise in Bohol last year where they showed an Aeta community doing a Polynesian/Hawaiian dance. It screams fake to those who are in the know and it creates the wrong impression about this cultural community.

“The beaches in the Philippines are better than Indonesia or Thailand,” he said.

So true. My brother-in-law was a recent visitor to Bali. I asked him about its beaches and how they fare against ours. Ours is better. However, Bali has an advantage when it comes to architecture. It just stands out. Architecture is culture. Again, we haven’t fully exploited this advantage.

Improving air access and customer service, educating rude and at times dishonest taxi drivers, building good link roads and developing niche markets were some of the new government’s strategies, according to Lim.

It’s time to cover the basics that has been a long time problem. It’s said that the Filipinos are the most hospitable people on earth. However, complaints about the very first person a tourist meets outside the departure area give us bad press. I had my share of unpleasant experiences with cab drivers. This measure shouldn’t only be directed at airport taxi drivers but also to ordinary taxi drivers.

We’ll make them (tourists) stay longer, enjoy the Philippines and so to do this we will have to improve the product that we offer,” he said.

I couldn’t agree more. More money stays here.

Access creates investments, investments create hotel facilities and that will also lower prices,” he said.

You may have the most beautiful beach in the country but if you can’t bring your visitors comfortably there or even provide them with quality lodging, it’s not tourism.

Lim also said that, while Philippine tour guides may speak English, they required more training and taxi drivers needed to improve their manners.

This too. I’m one with his idea. Just say the word, sir.

We have so many beautiful artifacts that are sitting in warehouses. It’s really almost criminal that they go to waste, and they are deteriorating. We should get museums in the old style, operating in the old city,” he said.

This part just did it for me. Secretary Lim knows well the importance of these pieces. They may shed light to some aspects of our history and culture that some have continued to deny, lambast, or reject. It gives local and foreign guests more places to visit aside from the usual sites.

As a tourist guide, I am excited to know where the priorities of our tourism secretary lie. It’s too early to get all giddy about it but from what I’ve read, the next six years do look promising.

One Comment

  1. jlg says:

    I think one of the objectives of the Dpt of tourism should be to increase the numbers by alluring the Hispanic clientele. It´s 500 million people including the USA.
    So far, you´re only concentrating on selling beaches, resorts, gambling and a little bit of nature and adventure tourism, and you have taken no acknowledgement of the Spanish heritage at all.
    1.6 million arrivals is NOTHING compared to your competitors´arrival numbers. And it´s not true that your beaches are better than Thai´s, Vietnam´s or Indonesia´s… they´re not worse either… simply different.
    By getting back somehow to your Spanish roots, you should be implementing something that your competitors don´t have, and that is SPANISH CHRISTIAN HERITAGE.

Comments are closed.