PH tourism still lags behind regional peers
The Philippine tourism industry continued to lag behind its peers in the region as its development is being hampered largely by the lack of infrastructure, inadequate access for foreign tourists to reach the country and the relatively high cost of getting here.
“There is no doubt that the Philippines can become a tourism destination. The Philippines has unbounded potential to develop tourism as a leading contributor to the economy. This sector is recognized as a driver of sustainable and inclusive growth as it opens up unlimited opportunities for new business ventures for both domestic and foreign investors. But comparative figures showed that there is much to be done in Philippine tourism industry,” said Guenter Taus, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP).
Speaking at the European Union-Philippines Business Network forum yesterday, Taus pointed out that international tourist arrivals in Thailand, for instance, reached nearly 25 million in 2014, while Singapore had some 15 million visitors. In contrast, the Philippines attracted only 5 million international tourists for the same period.
“There are concrete reasons why despite the substantial growth, the Philippines continues to lag behind regional peers in attracting (a bigger) share in the growing tourism pie. The lack of quality infrastructure, both hard and soft, is often cited as a major bottleneck to tourism development. The ease and cost of getting to the Philippines by foreign visitors, the presence of top international brands and the creation of tourism destinations that meet visitor expectations are also decisive factors in the success of Philippine tourism,” Taus explained.
“If the country (were) to become a desirable tourism destination especially for high spending visitors, it needs to facilitate international investments in infrastructure and facilities that better match visitors’ expectations,” he added.
Taus also cited the need for the Department of Tourism to map out specific sectors in the tourism industry that hold the biggest potential, whether it’s in ecotourism, medical, cruise or high-end tourism. A clear direction in the Philippine strategy would also create a clearer picture for potential investors as to what and in where it made sense to invest, he added.