Philippines Chamber of Commerce and Industry Wants to Push Tourism

Philippines, investments, tourism, marketing, strategy

Coron Island in Palawan (Photo: Creative Commons-Wikipedia)

The Philippines Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) wants to boost investment in tourism all across the archipelago as business suddenly realize the loss generated by the shut-down of tourism icon Boracay.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) is the country’s biggest business organization and expressed recently its concern as Boracay Island has been shut for six months by Presidential decision despite protest for local stakeholders, including PCCI, which wished to have seen a rehabilitation in phases.

Boracay is a flagship for Philippines tourism attracting over two million tourists (domestic and international). However, the island’s shut down has one positive effect. Stake-owners and professionals of the tourism industry suddenly realize that it is time for the Philippines to spread the development of its tourism industry to new areas and destinations.

The PCCI recently stressed that its members would be ready to generate US$150 billion worth of tourism income by launching an investment plan valid for the next ten years. PCCI director for tourism Samie Lim told the newspaper Inquirer that they were in search of 20 tourism destinations that would rival the charm of Boracay. “We want to raise $20 billion of investments specifically in tourism enterprises. We want to employ about 10 million people in tourism. If we have 20 destinations as good as Boracay, our tourism industry will not put all our eggs in one basket,” he explained.

Lim explained to the newspaper that the Canadian government provided funds to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), to help provinces to promote themselves. Some 40 of them submitted their plans with PCCI finally choosing 20 of them. The group applied criteria such as accessibility, infrastructure as well as sightseeing, factors that tourists do consider before making their decision to visit.

PCCI will now talk to its members to see where investments could be possible with or without the government’s support. “[If we succeed], wewill be able to attract 20 million foreign tourists and 100 million domestic tourists. That would bring us $150 billion in terms of tourism income alone. It would be one of the biggest industries in 10 years,” added PCCI specialist.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants provinces to concentrate their efforts on five ‘A’ commitments, the base to succeed in their tourism policy: Arrivals, Access, Accommodation, Attractions and Activities.

According to Samie Lim, provinces have to look to attract budget airlines, charter flights, cruise liners and ferries to foster tourist arrivals, but also to develop travel agencies, tour guides, modern airports and seaports as well as communication infrastructure such as roads, telecoms, ports, electricity supply and of course proper waste and water management.

Lim, who was also behind the PCCI’s BizTour5 program that sought to develop private sector-initiated tourism programs, said that there should be budget airlines and chartered planes, cruise liners and ferries to accommodate the arriving tourists. He added that there was also a need to develop travel agencies, tour guides and world-class airports and seaports. The lack of a proper sewerage system in Boracay had for example led to the degradation of the natural beauty of the island.

Lim also said then that provinces should llok back at their history and culture to improve the offer in that field, which is often neglected. Public green spaces, museums, heritage areas, sport facilities and recreational activities are among the assets which need to be develop.

The lack of infrastructure and limited accommodation facilities have so far hampered the development of Philippines tourism. In 2017, the country received 6.62 million of foreign visitors, up by 11% over 2016. While this can be considered a very good performance, the tourism performance of the country is far behind other ASEAN nations. To compare, Thailand receives 35 million visitors, Malaysia over 22 million while Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam record more or less 15 million international travellers a year.

While the government is looking at welcoming 20 million international arrivals (+ 100 million domestic travellers) by 2023, some experts estimate that with a growth rate of 10% per year, the Philippines will only reach between 11.5 and 12 million travellers by that date.