Philippines President Benigno Aquino III has joined the growing number of world leaders that are part of the UNWTO/WTTC Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign, aimed at rallying support for tourism at the highest level of government.
“Tourism is very important to the Philippines,” said President Aquino, signalling in particular the attention given to road and air infrastructure in the country and the implementation of the Pocket Open Skies Policy. The policy eases restrictions on foreign airlines, allowing them to land in international airports around the Philippines and opening up the country to more foreign visitors.
Presenting the President with an Open Letter on the importance of tourism to global growth and development, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, congratulated the country on its impressive tourism development, its active support of the open skies policies and the launch of its latest tourism promotion campaign “It’s More Fun in the Philippines”.
The Secretary of the Department of Tourism of the Philippines (DOT), Mr. Ramon Jimenez Jr. said: ¨It’s More Fun in the Philippines focuses on the Filipino as your host. The Filipino, your host, takes it as his absolute personal responsibility and almost as a matter of honour that the tourist’s stay is in fact fun.”
“This exciting new campaign, the recent decision to liberalize aviation and joining the Leaders for Tourism Campaign are all steps in the right direction and proof that the Philippines is fully committed to maximizing its potential as an extremely attractive tourism destination,” said Mr. Rifai.
David Scowsill, President & CEO of WTTC, said: “The Philippines’ robust tourism plan has been held up as a model within South East Asia for other governments to follow. In 2011, Travel & Tourism accounted for about 9% of GDP and is forecast to rise by 5.2% per annum by 2022. Within this set of islands, the industry also accounts for over 3.5 million jobs. With the President receiving the Open Letter, and joining this movement of world leaders to recognise Travel & Tourism’s global role, it is a further reflection of the importance of Travel & Tourism to the job growth and economic viability of the Philippines.”
UNWTO’s on-going work with the Philippines was the subject of further discussions between the Secretary-General and national tourism officials. In collaboration with the Tourism Congress, the private sector consultative body of the DOT, UNWTO will conduct a study on tourism opportunities in the country. In support of the Philippines National Tourism Development Plan (2011-2016), the study will illustrate the direct economic benefits of actions taken in areas such as visa facilitation and air connectivity.
The Philippines received four million international tourists in 2011, a record breaking increase of 11% compared with the previous year. The Government has set the target of 10 million inbound tourists by 2016, the final year of its National Tourism Development Plan. International tourism receipts rose to over US$ 3 billion in 2011, representing more than 25% of the country’s exports of services.