By Azer N. Parrocha
MANILA, Aug. 14 (PNA) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) presented on Thursday its proposed 2015 budget of Php 1.967 billion to the House of Representatives which is designed to give a boost in marketing and branding efforts in the Philippines.
During the budget hearing, DOT Assistant Secretary Benito Bengzon explained that the increased budget will help the country in its preparation for the hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in 2015.
It can be recalled that 2015 has also been declared by the DOT as “Visit Philippines Year.”
Bengzon said that the department is pitching a 2015 budget of P1.967 billion.
He added that this is aimed at making the country globally competitive and its industry and services more innovative, especially with its tourism target at 10 million foreign tourist arrivals by 2016 (6.8 million by 2015).
From January to June this year, the country hosted a total of 2.43 million foreign tourists, a 2.2-percent increase from its 2.38 million arrivals in the same period in 2013, data from DOT showed.
In 2013, the country fell short of its target of 5 million tourists by the end of the year, with only 4.7 million tourists. This was attributed to the October earthquake in Bohol and super typhoon “Yolanda” in the Visayas Region in November.
The country’s top tourist market remains to be South Korea, followed by the United States, China, Japan, and Australia.
Meanwhile, the new geographic markets for DOT include Russia, India, the Middle East, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
For his part, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said that tourist arrivals is not the department’s sole tourism indicator.
He noted that the length of stay, daily expenditures and visitor receipts of tourists should also be considered, stressing that the country did not invest enough in the souvenir industry.
It is about time that the Philippines develops its food and souvenir products to make sure that tourists return to their home countries having made the most of their trip, he said.
Jimenez also said that the improvement of the country’s airports is also a factor to acquiring more tourists since it would draw attention of international carriers. (PNA)