MANILA — The Department of Tourism (DOT) presented before the House of Representatives Committee on Tourism on Wednesday its accomplishment report in 2014, as well as its plans and programs of activities this year toward promoting the country through tourism development.
Bohol Rep. Rene Relampagos, chairman of the committee, asked the DOT officials about the breakthroughs, accomplishments and success stories to determine the status of the Aquino administration’s strategy on the development and promotion of the country through the tourism industry.
“We have adapted the development of the tourism industry in order to create jobs and economic and livelihood opportunities, so that at the end of the day, as the development trickles down, this will be felt by our people and, hopefully, make a difference in their lives where they could feel the impact of the progress attained by this administration,” Relampagos said.
DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. showed the committee the accomplishments of the department for 2014 through tourism indicators involving tourism employment, inbound tourists and receipts, as well as domestic visitors and receipts.
According to Bengzon, the tourism market generally continues to register positive growth rates, indicating that the industry remains healthy.
Bengzon said the number of foreign tourist arrivals last year increased to 4.8 million from 4.6 million in 2013.
He added that the department is targeting to reach 5.2 million tourists for this year.
The Philippines, Bengzon said, also received several citations and awards from international publications and organizations, including the Forbes’ Top 25 Countries to Retire to in 2015, TTG Asia’s Destination of the Year 2014, Lonely Planet’s Must-See Destination, and UK Telegraph’s Top 20 Destinations in 2013.
Aside from this, Bengzon said the DOT has devised the National Tourism Development Plan with three strategic directions — to develop and market competitive tourist products and destination; improve market access, connectivity and infrastructure in the country; and improve the tourism institutional governance and human resources.
Bengzon added that the DOT puts emphasis on the Branding Campaign 2015 and the market development through developing networks and generating business with considerations on the spending capacity, as well as on the aspect of the demand and supply in the industry.
He said the tourism sector also generated more than 2,500 manpower requirements through its several development projects on infrastructures like Hilton Manila, Hotel Specialists Manila Inc., Solaire Resort & Casino Manila, and Bai Hotel in Mandaue City.
The department also focuses on route and product developments through improving connectivity with the global and regional airlines, and participating in aviation events.
Bengzon said they have drafted a Human Resources Development Strategy that encourages long-term vision for improving the education and training needs of the people within the tourism industry.
After the briefing, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez urged the DOT to ask assistance from the other government agencies such as the Department of Transportation and Communications, Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Philippine Ports Authority for the proper implementation of its plans and programs for this year.