San Francisco, California – In a significant demonstration of economic rebound, the Philippines’ tourism sector has witnessed an extraordinary surge, with earnings reaching PHP 404.02 billion (approximately USD 7 billion) in the first ten months of 2023. This impressive figure marks a 190% increase from last year’s earnings of PHP 138.46 billion (USD 2.47 billion), as reported by the Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco.
Secretary Frasco announced this remarkable achievement at the 2023 Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) held on November 15 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, California. This briefing was part of a series of events showcasing the Philippines’ investment opportunities to the global business community, under the leadership of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
Key Highlights of the Tourism Sector’s Performance
- Robust Visitor Numbers: The country has welcomed over 4.63 million international tourists, nearly achieving the entire year’s target. This influx has significantly boosted the national economy.
- Tourism as an Economic Pillar: Recognized as the second top economic driver in the Philippines for the first half of 2023, tourism has played a pivotal role in the country’s economic growth.
- Contribution to GDP: In 2022, tourism contributed 6.2% to the country’s GDP. The year also saw 2.65 million foreign tourists and a staggering 102 million domestic trips, resulting in employment for over 5.35 million people in the tourism sector.
DOT’s 50th Anniversary and Future Goals
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the DOT emphasizes tourism’s role as a unifying force and a vital economic pillar post-pandemic. Secretary Frasco highlighted the department’s commitment to leveraging tourism’s potential, supported by President Marcos Jr.’s efforts to prioritize this sector.
Collaborative Infrastructure and Connectivity Initiatives
The DOT’s collaboration with various government departments, including the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr), is central to transforming the Philippines into a major tourism hub in Asia. Key initiatives include:
- Infrastructure Development: Over 158 kilometers of tourism roads have been constructed or rehabilitated in 2023, with more projects planned for 2024.
- Enhancing Airport and Seaport Services: Initiatives like the “Filipinization” of airports and seaports aim to improve the overall tourist experience, starting with upgrades to Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
- Human Capital Development: Training programs have been implemented for over 111,000 Filipino tourism workers, focusing on the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence.
- Tourist Rest Areas and Cruise Terminals: Plans are underway to construct 10 tourist rest areas and five new cruise terminals, enhancing facilities for tourists across the country.
With the DOT’s proactive strategies and collaborative efforts, the Philippine tourism industry is poised for even more significant growth and development. The “Think Growth, Think Philippines” theme at the PEB in San Francisco underscores the nation’s commitment to becoming a premier tourist destination and a thriving economic powerhouse in the region.