MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) will likely miss its five-million tourist arrival target this year due to the impact of the recent natural calamities that hit the country, a DOT official said.
“We would have been able to meet the target since our tourist arrival figures until September were high but with the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu and the recent Super Typhoon Yolanda, these would make it really difficult to hit the five-million target (for 2013),” Tourism Promotions Board chief operating officer Domingo Ramon Enerio III said on the sidelines of the launch of the Bangon Tours Project yesterday.
However, Enerio said they are sticking to their 10-million tourist arrival target for 2016.
“We may miss our target for this year but we will keep our 2016 target of 10 million. We will not revise it. We will ask out people to work harder to hit the target. We may have been affected by a lot of calamities but this should not hinder us from hitting our 2016 target. We need all our efforts. We should keep our determination and our spirit to keep our tourism industry growing amid these calamities,” he said.
He admitted that since the calamities struck, there were a reported 30-90 percent cancellations in hotel bookings which will definitely take its toll on the country’s tourism growth targets.
The DOT official, however, could not quantify as yet the revenue losses from these cancellations. “We still have to wait for the October, November, December data. But September tourist arrival data were still ok,” he said.
In end-September 2013, international arrivals went up 11 percent to 3.5 million.
According to Enerio, bookings in Manila, however, are still full.
As this developed, TPB has initiated the Bangon Tours Project as a direct contribution to the government’s recovery and rebuilding efforts for the victims and survivors of the recent natural calamities which have befallen island provinces-tourist destination themselves- in the Visayas.
“It is an invitation to the Filipino market to travel within the Philippines during the holiday period (Dec. 1, 2013-Feb. 28, 2014), visit our fun destinations, and participate in rebuilding efforts,” he said.
Initially, 16 areas are to be featured for Bangon Tours, as proposed by Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) and Philippine Travel Operators Association (Philtoa): Ilocos, Tuguegarao, Baguio, Batangas-Puerto Galera, Manila-Tagaytay, Puerto Princesa, Baler, Bicol, Cebu, Davao, Bohol, Iloilo, Boracay, Siargao, CDO-Camiguin, and Batanes. However, Bangon Tour offerings will not be limited to these destinations.
TPB is now in talks with Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific to help in this endeavor.
At present, there are about 20 PTAA and Philtoa members who have already signified keen interest to participate in the project.
Other participants in the project are restaurants, shopping malls, retail outlets, and other tourism services and their respective associations. Other non-tourism participants include credit card companies and banks.
In the public sector, all DOT regional offices, Duty Free Philippines and local government units (LGUS) will participate in the Bangon Tours initiative.
Participating establishments of Bangon Tours, on a voluntary and honesty basis, will be requested to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to agree to share a minimum of five percent of their revenues prior to taxes and service charge from tour packages/room nights sold via these tours.