ASEAN Integration to Open More Opportunities for Philippine Tourism Industry

Regional integration for ASEAN Economic Community 2015 will open the door for more opportunities for the country’s tourism industry.

Department of Tourism(DOT) Policy Formulation and Evaluation Division Alex Macatuno, in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)- led AEC 2015 Forum here on Monday, said that AEC 2015 will open more opportunities for people in the tourism and hospitality sector. Filipinos he said have already established a very good track record and a competitive edge in the global market.

“Our workforce are very good and more competitive compared to other member states in the tourism industry. I say this not as a Filipino but it can be said on how many Filipinos are working on hotels abroad, how many are performers overseas and how many are in the cruise industry; so this is actually an opportunity primarily to our people,” Macatuno said.

He also informed that locally, AEC 2015 can bring in more foreign investment especially in hotels and restaurants, which could create more employment for the country’s tourism and hospitality workforce, as well as increase in tourist arrivals from neighboring ASEAN countries. ​

For the mobility of tourism professionals and workers, Macatuno reported that skills enhancement trainings are already being implemented to prepare tourism workforce. He said that the possible influx of Filipino workforce abroad will not create a vacuum in the industry as studies show that there are more than enough students going into the industry’.

“It is just a matter of giving them the opportunity to enhance their skills and potential”, Macatuno said.

For boosting the country’s tourism industry in preparation for AEC 2015, Macatuno pointed out the need to develop new products and in bringing in more tourism infrastructure development projects.

Macatuno disclosed that the country, through DOT is set to sign a Cruise tourism development project with Vietnam.

In terms of foreign tourist arrivals, though it increased from around 3.5 million in 2012 to 4.2 million in 2013, the Philippines still ranks sixth among the 10 ASEAN member countries. Macatuno reported that more work needs to be done on tourism infrastructure.

“Connectivity and seamless travel on air, water and land, for both foreign and local tourist is very vital for the tourism industry”, he stressed .

He reported that the DOT and the Department of Public Works and Highways road infrastructure projects are already gaining ground and the national government is also already investing on the airports and seaport development projects. (JDP/Carlito C. Dar–PIA CAR)

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