MANILA (Mabuhay) – Ignoring the contrarian views taken by industry officials, President Benigno Aquino III on Monday vowed that the Philippines will break the 10-million mark in the number of tourist arrivals by the end of his term in 2016.
“We remain committed to breaching the 10-million mark by the time my term ends in about two years and one month,” Aquino said in his speech at the UN World Tourism Organization-ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change in Legazpi, Albay.
He issued the statement despite statements by tourism industry officials that the Philippines will have a tough time achieving the 10-million target because of bad roads and unexpected setbacks.
However, Aquino cited the 4.68 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, which he said is 10 percent higher than the year earlier figures despite the calamities that ravaged the country.
The President noted that in 2011, the industry was able to beat its 2016 target of 35.5 million domestic tourists by two million.
“We met our target for 2016 five years ahead of schedule. This pushed us to set our sights higher,” he said.
Now, his administration is working on reaching the new target of 56.1 million domestic tourists by 2016, the President said.
“We will remain in active pursuit of this target as well,” he said.
Aquino said his administration is bent on improving the tourism sector, because it is “certainly one of the best sectors to focus on and one of the shortest and most efficient paths to inclusive growth.”
He cited the situation of Donsol in Sorsogon. The President claimed Donsol was elevated to a first class municipality from sixth on account of tourism.
“Largely due to the economic and social benefits of the project, as well as the participation of the local community, Donsol went from a sixth class municipality to a first class municipality in less than five years,” he said.
A sixth class municipality earns less than P15 million annually compared with a first class municipality with an annual average income of P55 million, he added. (MNS)