Department of Tourism (DOT) Outlines Key Achievements and Initiatives Leading to 2023 State of the Nation Address

Ahead of the 2023 State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco unveiled the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) significant contributions to the 10-point economic agenda and its strides toward positioning the Philippines as a tourism powerhouse in Asia. Secretary Frasco highlighted the comprehensive plan to achieve sustainable and inclusive development across all sectors of the industry.

President Marcos’ prioritization of tourism has propelled the DOT’s efforts to reintroduce the Philippines based on its greatest assets—Filipino culture, heritage, and identity. Secretary Frasco expressed gratitude, stating, “We thank our President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. for identifying tourism as a priority, which provided the impetus for the Department of Tourism’s aggressive efforts.”

Philippines Tourism Resurgence in 2022

A standout achievement is the remarkable recovery of tourism numbers, exceeding projections. From February to December 2022, the Philippines welcomed 2.65 million international tourists, surpassing the year-end projection of 1.7 million by almost one million additional visitors. Domestic tourism also played a pivotal role, recording over 102 million trips in 2022—a 176.18 percent increase from the previous year.

Economic Impact of Tourism

The 2022 Philippine Tourism Satellite Accounts (PTSA) reported a substantial increase in internal tourism expenditure, reaching Php 1.87 trillion, a 131.2 percent increase from 2021. The Tourism Direct Gross Value Added (TDGVA) contributed 6.2 percent to the GDP, valued at Php 1.38 trillion, marking a 36.9 percent increase from 2021.

As of July 21, 2023, the DOT recorded 3,017,224 foreign visitor arrivals, moving closer to the 4.8 million targets for the year.

Infrastructure and Digitalization Initiatives

To boost connectivity and enhance traveler convenience, the DOT prioritized infrastructure and digitalization initiatives. Through the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the DOT initiated the construction of Tourist Rest Areas (TRAs) in strategic locations nationwide. Collaborations with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) focused on improving gateways, including NAIA Terminal 2, Cebu City Pier One, and Davao International Airport.

The DOT also entered an MOU with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to improve internet connectivity in 94 tourist destinations. A Tourist Lifecycle App is set to launch, catering to both domestic and foreign tourists.

Encouraging Travel and Cruise Tourism

Liberalization of COVID-19 protocols, discussions with airlines, and enhancements to the eArrival card and e-Travel system aimed to position the Philippines as a competitive tourist destination. Air routes, including secondary gateways like Clark International Airport, were expanded. The country expects 121 cruise calls in 2023, reflecting growth compared to 102 calls in 2019.

International Recognition and Achievements

Participation in local and international expos, such as ITB 2023 Convention in Germany and the ASEAN Tourism Forum Travel Exchange, generated over three billion in estimated sales leads. The Philippines garnered accolades, including World’s Leading Beach Destination, World’s Leading Dive Destination, and Asia’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the 2022 World Travel Awards.

Promoting Filipino Brand and Service Excellence

The DOT introduced the enhanced tourism slogan “Love the Philippines,” focusing on the country’s biodiversity, heritage, culture, history, and people. The Filipino Brand of Service Excellence (FBSE) program trained 61,368 individuals from the beginning of 2023 to July 14. The DOT strengthened the Tourist-oriented Police for Community Order and Protection (TOPCOP) program and accredited 13,462 tourism-related enterprises as of July 15, 2023.

Secretary Frasco concluded, “We look forward to achieving greater heights under the Marcos administration with the continued partnership of tourism stakeholders. The DOT remains positive about the sustained progress and development of the industry as we gather more support in our continuing pursuit to maximize the contribution of tourism to the lives of millions of Filipinos.”

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