September 25, 2023
MANILA -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) is confident of hitting or even surpassing its tourist arrivals target this year as the agency unveiled plans to further improve services in the country, including emergency "baywatch" facilities.
At a forum organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines in Makati, Tourism Undersecretary Shereen Yu-Pamintuan said as of September 19, 2023, they have recorded around 3.8 million arrivals for the year.
Pamintuan said she is optimistic about breaching the 2023 target because of the holiday season.
“We haven’t even accounted for those our kababayans who are going to come home, expected to come home this December. We are expected to breach our target of 4.8 million," she said.
She also unveiled several plans of DOT like the setting up of emergency baywatch facilities in top beach destinations. Pamintuan noted that even Boracay, one of the world’s best beaches, has no emergency facilities such as emergency doctors and other medical services.
“We noticed we lack the proper facilities in order to provide immediate emergency care to any of our tourists that come into accidents or have any health problems,” Pamintuan said.
DOT is now in talks with the Health Department and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority for this project.
“They will provide the right doctors and nurses and have the right equipment in order to immediately treat all of our tourists enjoying our beautiful destinations here in the Philippines,” she said.
The DOT will also soon launch a 24/7 tourism hotline for all tourist-related concerns. Some call center agents will be able to speak a foreign language like Chinese or Korean to address the concerns of tourists.
The Tourism official also said they will keep the ‘Love the Philippines’ slogan despite earlier controversies.
“We are keeping the “Love the Philippines” campaign,” she said adding, “many of the local and international placements are already up for bidding and we are waiting for them to be awarded soon.”
She said they have published terms of reference for the bidding or procurement of ads and marketing campaigns worth P700 million.
Meanwhile, the airline and hotel sectors share that they too are optimistic of the near future in terms of tourism. They admit though that they are still not back to pre-pandemic levels due to many challenges including the flight interruptions experienced by tourists.
“Issues involving supply chain, the lack of aircraft parts driven by the closure of a couple of aircraft plant manufacturers that preferred not to reopen after the pandemic, plus a shortage of skilled labor,” said Sam David, IATA Country Manager for the Philippines.
But David clarified that the Asia Pacific region has a high growth rate in terms of passenger travel and this can be good for Philippine tourism overall.