Tourism is now one of the major revenue generators, a catalyst for socio-economic growth and a source of national pride.
In 2017, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the sector contributed 12.2 percent to the country’s GDP, equivalent to Php 1.929 trillion, a huge leap compared to its PhP466 billion contribution in 2009 (or 5.8 percent of the GDP).
That spike in growth can be attributed to the enactment of Republic Act 9593, better known as the Tourism Act of 2009.
“The positive growth of the tourism industry today is because of the innovations of the Tourism Act of 2009. The law has enabled the nation to develop the sector to provide inclusive growth to communities all over the country,” said Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
TOURISM ACT FOR A STRONGER TOURISM INDUSTRY
Signed into law on May 12, 2009 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, RA 9593 recognized tourism as an indispensable element of the national economy and an industry of national interest and importance. Senator Richard Gordon and former Bohol Representative Edgardo M. Chatto were the principal authors of the law.
Under R.A. 9593, the DOT was reorganized and given considerable sources of funding to achieve its designated mandate and functions.
“The tourism bill is not a manna from heaven; it is a challenge for Filipinos to take stock in the beauty of their homeland and the talents of their countrymen. We already have everything we need to become one of the biggest tourism destinations in the world but it will not come without hard work,” said Gordon.
SUSTAINING THE SUCCESS
Ten years on, with the tourism industry having welcomed 7.1 million international visitors in 2018, the DOT celebrates the Tourism Act’s role in creating a robust Philippine tourism industry. This is a huge leap compared to only three million international arrivals in 2009.
One indication of the social impact of the Philippine tourism industry is the number of jobs it has created in the last decade. By 2017, 13.1 percent of total employment — 5.3 million jobs — was directly attributed to the tourism sector, compared to only 3.9 million in 2009.
“We celebrate the Tourism Act of 2009 to look back at how the tourism sector was able to transform lives and communities for the past decade. However, it is also a driving force, our motivation to work harder knowing that tourism has the power to propel the nation and its people toward growth and prosperity,” said Romulo-Puyat.
TOURISM ROADMAP 2022
Part of the provisions of R.A. 9593 is the creation of the Philippine National Tourism Plan (NTDP), DOT’s strategic framework that guides the development of the industry.
Two strategic directions comprising 12 development programs are outlined in the NTDP 2016-2022, which aims to realize 12 million tourist arrivals and generate PhP3.9 trillion tourism revenue, contributing a Gross Value Added (GVA) of PhP2.4 trillion to the country’s GDP and employing 6.5 million Filipinos by 2022.
DOT prioritizes the programs that are concerned with: (1) developing adequate infrastructure, (2) facilitating travel, (3) providing safety and security, and (4) developing tourism areas.
To ensure that DOT gets these done, it is implementing a convergence approach where the Department works in partnership with other national government agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
CONVERGENCE AT WORK
As of now, there are 12 international gateways that service the 49 Tourism Development Areas in the Philippines, with eight having already undergone rehabilitation and improvement.
In 2018, the convergence of the government agencies facilitated the construction and opening of new airports such as the Mactan-Cebu International Airport that can now accommodate 12.5 million passengers per year. The Bohol-Panglao International Airport was also inaugurated last year with an annual capacity of three million passengers.
The government is currently building new airports, including a new terminal at Clark International Airport that is due to open in 2020. In the pipeline are the Bicol International Airport in Legazpi, and expansion plans for Manila, Davao, Iloilo, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa, and Laguindingan airports.
DOT ATTACHED AGENCIES
Two organizations were reorganized under R.A. 9593. The Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) became the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), and the Philippine Conventions and Visitors Corporation (PCVC) was replaced with the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB).
TIEZA is the implementing agency and infrastructure arm of the DOT. It prioritizes the construction of tourism infrastructure projects of national interest and significance. From 2010 to 2019, TIEZA completed a total of 300 projects (including the Boracay Water Drainage Program Phase II), of which 15 are ecotourism projects located in provinces that need development the most.
R.A. 9593 also provided for the establishment of Tourism Enterprise Zones (TEZ), parcels of land developed into master-planned, integrated tourism complexes, and designated as such as by the TIEZA Board.
Vital components of TEZs are infrastructure utilities, tourism-sector enterprises such as accommodation, MICE, theme park and other leisure facilities.
TPB, on the other hand, is DOT’s marketing arm. TPB’s milestones for the last decade include successfully marketing and promoting to strategic key markets that contributed 85 to 90 percent of the total international visitor arrivals to the Philippines in partnership with private and public stakeholders. It has hosted a total of 4,374 international travel trade and media practitioners to participate in invitational programs or familiarization trips from 2015 to 2018 and 1,279 foreign buyers from 2011 to 2018 during the Philippine Travel Exchange.
The Intramuros Administration (IA) is DOT’s arm responsible for the restoration and development of the historic walled city of Intramuros. IA is positioning itself to be known as the country’s creative urban heritage district. The Maestranza Wall will be transformed into the Philippines’ first creative hub focused on design excellence and a platform for job creation.
Other attached agencies of DOT include the Duty Free Philippines Corporation, National Parks Development Committee, Philippine Retirement Authority, Nayong Pilipino and the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving.
PARTNERSHIP WITH PRIVATE SECTOR
The private sector continues to play a large part in developing the Philippine Tourism Industry. As part of R.A. 9593, the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) was established to give the private sector a role in the crafting of tourism policy in partnership with DOT and its attached agencies.
“Whereas prior to the R.A. 9593, the private sector was somewhat of a passive partner, the creation of the TCP gave increased importance and responsibility to the stakeholders as far as how the tourism industry should proceed,” said current TCP President Jose Clemente III.
CELEBRATION OF THE TOURISM DECADE
Marking the 10th anniversary, DOT will launch a year-long campaign titled “The Tourism Decade: Celebrating the Rise of the Philippine Travel Industry with the Tourism Act of 2009.” It narrates how the R.A. 9593 has significantly improved the lives of thousands of individuals and communities.
Through the stories of the people from the tourism sector, those who dedicated their lives to making meaningful and memorable experience for visitors, the public is able to affirm the transformative power of the tourism industry.