The Philippine tourism industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. In 2018, the Philippines welcomed 7.1 million international visitors, compared to 2009’s 3 million foreign arrivals.
One of the most heartening indicators of the growth of the Philippine tourism industry is the number of jobs it has created in the last decade. By 2017, 5.3 million jobs — 13.1% of total employment — were directly attributed to the tourism sector.
Did you know that these benefits and the industry’s growth were given a boost through the enactment of Republic Act 9593, better known as the Tourism Act of 2009?
Where the fun started
Enacted on May 12, 2009 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Cebu City, Republic Act 9593 recognized tourism as an indispensable element of the national economy and an industry of national interest and importance. Sen. Richard Gordon and former Bohol Representative Edgardo Chatto were the principal authors of the law.
According to Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat: “The positive growth of the tourism industry today is because of the innovations of the Tourism Act of 2009. The law has enabled the nation to develop the sector to provide inclusive growth to communities all over the country.”
In 2017, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the sector contributed 12.2% to the country’s GDP, equivalent to P1.929 trillion. This is a huge leap compared to P466 billion in 2009 (5.8% of the GDP).
As intended by RA 9593, tourism is now a major revenue generator, a catalyst for socio-economic growth and a source of national pride. #ItsMoreFuninthePhilippines for real, and we all have a part to play.
Tourism roadmap 2022
“The tourism bill is not manna from heaven; it is a challenge for Filipinos to take stock in the beauty of their homeland and the talents of their countrymen. We already have everything we need to become one of the biggest tourism destinations in the world but it will not come without hard work,” said the act’s principal author, Sen. Gordon.
Under RA 9593, DOT was reorganized and given considerable sources of funding to achieve its designated mandate and functions.
As provided by RA 9593, the Philippine National Tourism Plan (NTDP) is DOT’s strategic framework that guides the development of the industry.
The NTDP 2016-2022 aims to realize 12 million tourist arrivals and generate P3.9 trillion tourism revenue, contributing a Gross Value Added of P2.4 trillion to the country’s GDP and employing 6.5 million Filipinos by 2022.
DOT prioritizes the programs that are concerned with: (1) developing adequate infrastructure, (2) facilitating travel, (3) providing safety and security, and (4) developing tourism areas.
To ensure that we get these done, the DOT is implementing a convergence approach where the department works in partnership with other national government agencies such as the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
As of now, there are 12 international gateways that service the 49 Tourism Development Areas in the Philippines, with eight having already undergone rehabilitation and improvement.
In 2018, the convergence of the government agencies facilitated the construction and opening of new airports such as the Mactan-Cebu International Airport that can now accommodate 12.5 million passengers per year. The Bohol-Panglao International Airport was also inaugurated last year with an annual capacity of 3 million passengers.
The government is currently building new airports, including a new terminal at Clark International Airport that is due to open in 2020. In the pipeline are the Bicol International Airport in Legazpi, and expansion plans for Manila, Davao, Iloilo, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa and Laguindingan airports.
Under RA 9593, two organizations were reorganized: the Philippine Tourism Authority became the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), and the Philippine Conventions and Visitors Corporation (PCVC) was replaced with the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB).
TIEZA is the implementing agency and infrastructure arm of the DOT. It prioritizes the construction of tourism infrastructure projects of national interest and significance. From 2010 to 2019, TIEZA completed a total of 300 projects (including the Boracay Water Drainage Program Phase II), of which 15 are ecotourism projects in provinces that need development the most.
RA 9593 also provided for the establishment of Tourism Enterprise Zones (TEZ), parcels of land developed into master-planned, integrated tourism complexes, and designated as such as by the TIEZA Board.
Vital components of TEZs are infrastructure utilities, tourism-sector enterprises such as accommodation, MICE, theme park and other leisure facilities.
TPB, on the other hand, is DOT’s marketing arm. TPB’s milestones for the last decade include successfully marketing and promoting to strategic key markets that contributed 85% to 90% of the total international visitor arrivals to the Philippines in partnership with private and public stakeholders. It has hosted a total of 4,374 international travel trade and media practitioners to participate in invitational programs or familiarization trips from 2015 to 2018 and 1,279 foreign buyers from 2011 to 2018 during the Philippine Travel Exchange.
The Intramuros Administration (IA) is DOT’s arm responsible for the restoration and development of the historic walled city of Intramuros. IA is positioning itself to be known as the country’s creative urban heritage district. The Maestranza Wall will be transformed into the Philippines’ first creative hub focused on design excellence and a platform for job creation.
Other attached agencies of DOT include the Duty Free Philippines Corporation, National Parks Development Committee, Philippine Retirement Authority, Nayong Pilipino, and the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving.
Together with the private sector
The private sector continues to play a large part in developing the Philippine Tourism Industry. As part of RA 9593, the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) was established to give the private sector a role in the crafting of tourism policy in partnership with DOT and its attached agencies.
“Whereas prior to RA 9593, the private sector was somewhat of a passive partner, the creation of the TCP gave increased importance and responsibility to the stakeholders as far as how the tourism industry should proceed,” said current TCP President Jose Clemente III.
A celebration of the tourism decade
Marking the 10th anniversary, DOT will launch a year-long campaign titled “The Tourism Decade: Celebrating the Rise of the Philippine Travel Industry with the Tourism Act of 2009.” It narrates how RA 9593 has significantly improved the lives of thousands of individuals and communities. Through the stories of the people from the tourism sector, those who dedicated their lives to making meaningful and memorable experience for visitors, the public is able to affirm the transformative power of the tourism industry.
“We celebrate the Tourism Act of 2009 to look back at how the tourism sector was able to transform lives and communities for the past decade.”
“However, it is also a driving force, our motivation to work harder knowing that tourism has the power to propel the nation and its people toward growth and prosperity,” DOT Secretary Puyat concluded.
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