Ensure PH position as tourism hotspot, Aquino urges stakeholders

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Friday, February 14, 2014

MANILA -- Even as he stressed his administration's support for tourism, President Benigno Aquino III on Friday challenged stakeholders in the tourism industry to go the extra mile to ensure the Philippines cements its position as a tourism hotspot.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) reported that visitor arrivals in 2013 totalled to 4,681,307 surpassing the previous year's record of 4,272,811 by 9.56 percent.

During the year, visitor count reached an all time high of more than 400,000 during the months of January, February, March, July and December. The highest growth rate, on the other hand, were recorded in February (15.8 percent), June (14.0 percent) and August (13.0 percent).

The President said Filipinos cannot be satisfied with what they have achieved so far.

"Of course, we cannot be satisfied with what we have achieved so far. The goal now is not merely to maintain our growth, but to cement our position as one of the world’s vacation hot spots," he said.

Aquino said his administration has been working hard to ensure visitors find their travels smooth and worry-free.

So far, he said the government has implemented reforms in civil aviation, by liberalizing airspace through the Pocket Open Skies Policy, and by rationalizing taxes on foreign carriers.

With added opportunities for both local and foreign airlines to expand operations in and out of the Philippines, he said consumers now have more options when planning their trips.

Government also continues to make massive investments in infrastructure—from construction and rehabilitation of roads leading to tourism clusters, to upgrading airports and ports in key areas, he added.

However, the President also threw a challenge to stakeholders in the tourism industry "to go beyond what you have already done."

The tourism department reported that the country's total revenues from inbound tourists rose 15 percent to $4.4 billion or P186.15 billion in 2013 compared to the 2012 level.

The increase in revenues, according to the DOT, was due to the improvement in the average daily expenditure of inbound tourists which also increased 8.7 percent to $101.12.

The overall average length of stay of visitors remained at 9.6 nights. (Jun M. Sarmiento/Sunnex)

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