MANILA, July 28 — The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday replaced two graphs showing the comparison between tourist arrivals and revenues during the first 11 months of the Duterte administration and the first 11 months of the Aquino administration following a news report that claimed that they attempted to mislead the public.
In its article, “Fact Check: DOT’s ‘misleading’ tourism graphs in 2017 report,” online news site Rappler said that the way the graphs were presented made it appear like they “disregarded” the progress achieved by the previous administration’s first year to the end of his term in June 2016.
Rappler pointed out that instead of showing a comparison between the Duterte administration’s first 11 months and the previous administration’s first 11 months, it should have shown the “immediately preceding” period.
“The DOT should have displayed the figures from July 2015 to May 2016, the first 11 months of Aquino’s last year, and see how it compares with that for July 2016 to May 2017, the first 11 months of Duterte’s first year,” the Rappler article stated.
Despite criticism from netizens, the DOT denied that there was an intention to “misinterpret data” or “mislead the public.”
“The graphic illustration merely intended to show the upward trend in international visitor arrivals, devoid of any intent to misrepresent data or mislead the public,” the DOT said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the data was lost in transition from its written form to the graph, hence the decision to take down the original graph, to be replaced with an updated one,” the agency added.
DOT Media Director Ina Zara-Loyola insisted that “there was really nothing misleading” about the graphs.
“Even the trips of President (Rodrigo) Duterte during his first year were compared to trips of President (Benigno) Aquino during his first year,” Loyola said in a phone interview.
The DOT explained that while it did recognize the significant contribution of the previous administration until the end of its term in June 2016, the agency intended to present the gains in the period of July 2016 to May 2017, to reflect its own accomplishments under the current administration.
Moreover, the agency also stressed that the tourism industry “maintained the positive trajectory of visitor receipts which amounted to PHP230.13-billion for 2016, a 1.1 percent increase from the 2015 total” in the first six months of the Duterte administration.
“The continuous upward trend can be attributed to the continuing support and cooperation among the tourism stakeholders to bolster the government’s sustainable and inclusive tourism program,” the DOT said.
It also attributed its gains to massive tourism transportation infrastructure development, enhancement of connectivity and entry policies and renewed international and ASEAN tourism cooperation to achieve the mid-term goals contained in the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP).
The agency, meanwhile, said that tourism data is “readily available to anyone who wishes to verify them in the wake of the comments on social media on the alleged erroneous graphic presentation of visitor arrivals.”