MANILA — A senior House member over the weekend expressed confidence that foreign visitors to the Philippines will continue to increase in the months ahead, mainly because of the heavily discounted tours brought about by falling aviation jet fuel prices.
“Spurred by the plunge in jet fuel prices, airlines and travel agents around the world are now selling bargain basement-priced tours, so we still expect arrivals to grow,” said House Deputy Minority Leader and LPG-MA Party-list Rep. Arnel Ty.
According to Ty, at USD 60.10 per barrel, the price of jet fuel has nose-dived 46.9 percent compared to a year ago, and air fares everywhere are going down.
“Cheaper air fares and tours are bound to bring in a greater number of foreign vacationers. This should more than offset any negative publicity from a single untoward incident,” the minority in the House Energy committee said.
Citing figures from Platts, the world’s leading energy information provider, Ty said airlines around the world are projected to amass a combined .2 billion in cost savings this year as a result of lower jet fuel prices, thus enabling them to offer cut-rate fares.
Tour operators allied with Philippine resorts and casinos at The Entertainment City are also expected to step up promotions to draw in gaming enthusiasts from abroad, Ty, a member of the House games and amusements committee, pointed out.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) is sticking to its target of up to 5.5 million foreign visitors this year, up from 4.8 million in 2014. The department is aiming for up to 10 million foreign sightseers in 2016.
Meanwhile, Ty said that under the proposed Php 3-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2016, the DOT intends to spend another Php 4.6 billion to forcefully sell the Philippines as a foreign tourist destination.
“The national government is also spending another Php 24 billion next year to build new infrastructures meant to make tourist destinations more accessible to visitors,” Ty said.
The Sept. 21 kidnapping of Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkinstad, 56; Canadian guests John Ridsdel, 68, and Robert Hall, 50; and Hall’s 40-year-old Filipina companion, Maritess Flor, has prompted the Canadian government to warn its citizens against traveling to Mindanao.
The four victims were seized by unidentified gunmen from the Holiday Ocean View Resort on Samal Island, Davao del Norte.
“This is a big challenge to Director General Ricardo Marquez, who is barely three months in his post as police chief. We are counting on the police to neutralize the kidnappers and rescue the hostages,” Ty said.