THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is aiming to transform the country into a tourism powerhouse in Asia through the implementation of the agency’s National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023 to 2028.

During the opening of the Tourism Stakeholders National Summit organized by the DOT on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco formally unveiled the completed NTDP, which will serve as the guide towards an innovative, inclusive and globally competitive tourism in the country.

“This NTDP will serve as a blueprint for the strategies on how the Department of Tourism intends to continue and to grow the impact of tourism upon our economy in the next few years. This will be the guidebook of the industry where we put in place mechanisms for sustainability for many many years to come,” said Frasco.

“Under the leadership of President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., we have been called upon to transform the Philippine (tourism industry) into a tourism powerhouse in Asia. With your partnership, collaboration and your unwavering support, I can say that we have begun the work of transforming the industry and giving the Philippines a more significant role in the Asean and in the world,” she added.

In transforming the country into a tourism powerhouse in the region, Frasco said programs will be anchored on Filipino culture, heritage and identity.

Among the seven main objectives of the plan were to improve tourism infrastructure and accessibility; establish cohesive and comprehensive digitalization and connectivity; enhance the overall tourist experience; equalization of tourism product development and promotion; diversification of the tourism portfolio through multidimensional tourism; maximization of domestic and international tourism; and strengthening tourism governance through close collaborations with national and local stakeholders.

In 2022, the country’s international arrivals reached 2.65 million, surpassing the agency’s target of 1.7 million foreign visitors.

Frasco noted that the recorded foreign arrivals in 2022 translated to P214 billion or roughly $4 billion in estimated revenues, exceeding the targeted revenue of P155.03 billion by 38.06 percent.

For this year, the DOT’s target for foreign visitors is at 4.8 million, the same level before the Covid-19 pandemic struck the world.

“The momentum for recovery and growth has begun. We’ve eased restrictions. We’ve continued to aggressively promote our destinations through the DOT’s constant and unyielding presence in various exhibits in the Philippines and all over the world. And people are traveling now, and are traveling with a vengeance. By promoting the Philippines through the biggest international tourism and trade fairs across Asia and Europe, we are reintroducing the Philippines to the world, and bringing no less than the best of the best of the country and the Filipino people,” the DOT secretary said.

“The Philippines already is a global destination upon the strength of our islands and beaches, our diving and biodiversity, and our hospitality as a people. Our future growth hinges on investments in meeting and conventions, health and wellness, lifestyle and entertainment, as well as domestic and international cruising. But most importantly, becoming a truly global destination demands that we provide an authentic Filipino experience for our visitors – creating distinctly Filipino experiences through our food and farms, our fashion and festivals, our arts and crafts, our traditions and practices, and the Filipino brand of service,” she added.

In order to achieve this goal, Frasco called for the support of the tourism stakeholders as well as of other concerned local government agencies. (SunStar Philippines)