Investing in a sustainable and secure tourism industry

Dr. Samie Lim talks about the three “soft A s” of tourism during the partners and media briefing.

TOURISM has always been central to national development. It contributes heavily to three high-priority goals of developing countries—the generation of income, employment  and foreign exchange earnings. A country can only truly prosper if it has a healthy, growing tourism industry.

That said, a dynamic, effective and innovative national tourism strategy that considers the country’s continuously evolving physical landscape and the ever-changing preferences of travelers is needed if the Philippines is to develop a sustainable tourism industry that can withstand local and global challenges.

Although I have always believed that tourism is a truly resilient industry here in the Philippines—having overcome many economic, societal and political challenges that the country has faced and coming out swinging with nary a scratch—the industry still needs more support from both the public and private sector in order to flourish.

Dr. Samie Lim speaking during the Investour Forum.

The good news is that the country’s tourism industry seems to be in good, capable hands today as friends from both the government and business have come out to do their share.

Just recently, I moderated the Investour Forum partners and media briefing organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) at the Manila House. In the partners and media briefing, I saw passionate individuals from different lines of work speak of their vision for sustainable tourism in the country.

San Vicente: A tourism hub for the future

One important point of discussion during the media briefing was the proposed tourism hub in San Vicente, Palawan, which is expected to generate at least $30 billion in tourism receipts in the next 15 years.

The author (from left), P/Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar and Dr. Samie Lim

Dr. Samie Lim, PCCI director for Tourism, Retail and Franchising, revealed that the San Vicente Flagship Tourism Enterprise Zone (SVFTEZ) of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) is seen to attract around 6 million foreign and 40 million domestic tourists. The potential number of tourists translates to a potential revenue of P30 billion once the project is completed.

“San Vicente is the longest beach in the whole of the Philippines. It is 14.7 kilometers long and it has been master planned carefully in the last few years by world renowned Filipino Architect Jun Palafox,” Lim shared. “We foresee 1,000 hotels to be put up on this long beachfront in the next 15 years.” he added.

Once completed, the SVFTEZ will feature attractions, such as cottages and cabins along the beachfront for the first cluster; a retail development hub for the second cluster; low-density accommodations and coves in the third cluster; and high-end beach accommodations on the fourth.

Poised to be the next big thing in Palawan, San Vicente is turning out to be a very interesting investment haven. The real advantage of San Vicente as an investment

opportunity, though, is that it is already designated as a Tieza zone with a 10-year incentive package for investors and a master plan that makes the whole project sustainable.

Safety and security as vital cogs in tourism

An interesting part of Lim’s presentation during the media briefing was the three “soft A s” of tourism, which are: Advertisement, Academe-Industry Linkages and Assurance of Safety.

While both advertising and linkages to the academe and industries are crucial to a vibrant and active tourism industry, the assurance of safety is what will truly keep the visitors coming. Indeed, the success or failure of a tourism destination depends on how a destination is able to provide a safe and secure environment for its visitors.

Picking up where Lim left off, then-National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar talked about tourism security during the media briefing.

“As in all business investment endeavors, peace and order is a pre-requisite to the success of our tourism industry,” the general stressed. “The support toward the tourism industry sectors provided by the police is therefore critical and essential,” he added.

The former NCRPO chief noted that one of the most dreaded pronouncements that a country can get is a travel ban which is generated by two factors: The peace and order situation of the area and health concerns in epidemic proportions.

“With a basic strategy of increasing police presence in identified critical areas, we have had a successful and healthy circulation of foreign and domestic tourists, including balikbayans,” Eleazar revealed. “From January to August of this year, the Department of Tourism and our police districts have tallied 38,183,193 tourists here in Metro Manila alone,” he added.

Eleazar attributed the vibrant tourism industry in Metro Manila to a robust peace and order situation. “Compared to the last three years of the previous administration, the Duterte administration has recorded a 58-percent decline in the volume of major crimes, such as murder, homicide, rape, theft, robbery, kidnapping, carnapping, motornapping and serious physical injuries.”

Eleazar ended his talk by emphasizing that the NCRPO cannot sit on their laurels. “The quest for the ideal peace and order situation is a never-ending grind for any nation, especially in a developing country like ours,” he stressed.

The Investour Forum partners and media briefing served as the announcement of a bigger event, dubbed as the “Investour Forum on Tieza’s Flagship Tourism Enterprise Zones,” which was held at the Centennial Ballroom of the Manila, Hotel, Manila last October 15.


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