Collaboration needed to unleash potential of gov’t tourism assets

Senator Sonny Angara (File photo)

MANILA – Senator Sonny Angara said collaboration between the public and private sectors should be explored to develop the full potential of the government’s tourism assets.

Speaking at a recent forum organized by the Ateneo School of Government, Angara said tourism is one area where a possible partnership between the government and the private sector could be explored more extensively.

“Government owns a lot of assets. But let’s face it, the government is not the best at running these enterprises. You’re not maximizing earnings in these enterprises,” Angara said in a news release on Sunday.

As examples, Angara cited the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel and some islands in the Visayas, which are owned and operated by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, which he said are prime tourist destinations that could use a little help from private enterprises with strong track records in developing such assets.

“If you could make them attractive, maybe the private sector could come in and do some variant of BOT (build-operate-transfer). They can make it profitable, they can make it nice and then turn these back over to the government at some point in the future,” Angara said.

Angara said this is still a largely unexplored area of public-private collaboration that could provide a boost to the tourism industry, generate a lot of economic activity and provide employment for Filipinos.

The tourism sector was among the most badly affected sectors when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country as restrictions on travel were imposed.

While the tourism sector does not appear to be on the top of the priorities of the government at this time, Angara said its revival will have to be addressed once there is more certainty regarding the health and safety of travelers, both domestic and foreign.

“Tourism contributes a great deal to the growth of our economy. It is lamentable that the pandemic struck at a time when the sector was already recording impressive growth,” Angara said.

He said tourism will continue to be a driver of growth once things go back to normal.

“With the right programs and investments, including closer public-private collaboration, I believe the Philippines could easily compete with the best in the region because of how much it has to offer,” Angara added. (PR)

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