DOT on poor tourism security rank: PH becoming safe with martial law
The Department of Tourism (DOT) has shrugged off the country’s poor tourism security ranking, saying that martial law in Mindanao has started to make the nation safer.
A report by World Economic Forum (WEF) showed that safety and security issues have dragged the country’s travel competitiveness ranking.
In the 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, the Philippines slid five places to 79th spot out of 136 countries. The country got an overall score of 3.6, and of the 14 pillars considered, it was on safety and security that the Philippines got its lowest rank. The Philippines landed at the 126th place, the bottom end of the spectrum.
Asked for his reaction on the 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report, Tourism Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre said the DOT was optimistic that the ranking would improve.
“Well, as you know, with martial law it’s becoming safe,” Alegre told reporters last Thursday. “We’re all struggling to make sure that it becomes even safer and right now we’re seeing that we’re meeting those expectation.”
Last week, Alegre called for a news conference to announce the DOT’s decision to split with McCann Worldgroup Philippines over the “unoriginal” “Experience the Philippines” tourism commercial.
“I’m sure we will go up in the next ranking,” Alegre added.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law over the whole of Mindanao after Islamic State-inspired terror group Maute laid siege to Marawi City in Lanao del Sur last May 23.
The Marawi siege has resulted in the death of hundreds and the evacuation of thousands of people.
Last week, the Supreme Court tackled petitions against the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, which is only valid for 60 days.
Malacañang also downplayed the WEF report, citing an increase in tourist arrival in the during the first quarter of 2017.
“Well, you know, contrary to the WEF report, tourism businesses are exposed to security risks. In spite of that, foreign tourists continue to increase steadily,” Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, presidential spokesperson, said in a Palace briefing last Thursday.
“We should be looking up, you know,” he said. “Wee don’t really focus on critics. We focus on actual work and processes. And there really is an increase, it’s quite positive.” –With reports from Bernadette Nicolas and Nestor Corrales /atm
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