The Department of Tourism (DOT) is doubling its efforts to promote the country as a sports tourism hub.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said “The Philippines has a huge potential to become one of the world’s great adventure travel destinations.
With our country’s natural attractions and the Filipinos’ love for sports, we certainly have the competitive edge to make it big in this fast growing niche market of sports tourism.”
The tourism chief made this statement following DOT’s participation in the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Conference on Tourism and Sports that was held in Da Nang, Viet Nam.
She also disclosed plans to mount more local and international sports events that have the potential to be major tourism draw cards.
According to Undersecretary Katherine de Castro, who represented the DOT at the said conference, the Philippines should bat for a bigger share in this ‘multi-billion’ dollar business of sports tourism.
“Marine sports tourism along with diving are among the Philippines’ key tourism products. This alone can spur tourism growth in the country,” the undersecretary added, referring to surfing, wake boarding, and diving.
The DOT also seeks to host the next UNWTO conference on tourism and sports.
UNWTO considers tourism and sports as “two social phenomena in the 21st century that mobilize millions of people the world over.”
According to the organization, these sectors “complement each other and share common goals such as forging understanding and closer relations between peoples of different cultures and lifestyles; and contributing to the promotion of peace among nations.”
Among the “most powerful economic driving force of society today,” tourism and sports “have enormous potential to generate a very wide-range of economic spin-offs.”
Accessible tourism pushed
Philippine's tourism sector banded together this week to press for reforms and make travel and tour a more accessible and enjoyable experience to persons with disability (PWD).
Sectoral representatives gathered for a forum at the Diamond Hotel in Manila to celebrate World Tourism Day and Philippine Tourism Week, themed “Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility.”
At the Department of Tourism (DOT) main office on G. Puyat Ave., Makati City, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo led a weeklong celebration with a trade exhibits, bazaar sale, cultural presentation, parlor games, and recognition of outstanding and long-time DOT employees.
The “Accessible Tourism Pilipinas Forum,” jointly-sponsored by the DOT and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), was highlighted by the recognition of 10 hotel establishments found to be “barrier-free” or “PWD-friendly.”
There was also a strong consensus among the participants to push for amendments to Batas Pambansa 344 of 1983, known as Accessibility Law.
Architect Jaime Silva of United Architects of the Philippines, one of the resource speakers, stressed the need to make the law more suitable to the needs of PWDs in the age of high-technology.
The DOT in 2011 partnered with NCDA, an attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), to advocate tourism for all to make tourism sites and establishments more accessible to PWDs, the elderly, pregnant women and families with small children.
Other resource speakers representing PWD groups were universal design expert Adela Kono and Dr. Jeana Manalaysay, who both noted the PWDs as a growing market for domestic tourism.
Also on hand to tackle accessibility issues were PWD advocates Margaretha Gloor of Circle of Friends Foundation, Inc. and Christian Pirodon of InterContinental Hotel Group.
At the “Breaking Barriers: Tourism Stakeholders Conference” held in Lyceum of the Philippines, Cavite, DOT Assist. Sec. Gwen Javier, spoke about the extreme difficulties that PWDs and the handicapped have to go through as a tourist.
“Every day, wheelchair-bound PWDs suffer from the unavailability of mechanical lifts on bus services, absence of access ramps and inaccessible bathrooms. Ironically, such hardship that they have to put up with, in many instances, defeats the purpose of the trip of having an enjoyable experience,” Javier said.
She urged the tourism sector to work hand in hand to provide a wholesome “total tourism experience” for PWDs, handicapped and elderly. (DOT)