The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) has recently crafted an ambitious road map, not only to jump-start the tourism industry, but boost local entrepreneurship, as well.
PCCI Director for Retail, Tourism and Franchise Samie Lim said the program aims to attract 20 million foreign and 100 million domestic tourists to boost the country’s tourism and leisure industry.
“The plan is to raise $20 billion from private organizations to invest in thousands of tourism enterprises, employing 15 million Filipinos in 20 world-class destinations,” Lim said in a recent interview.
“There are people who have a lot of money. They don’t know where to invest. We told them tourism is the next thing to invest. I am getting business people to invest money, $20 billion. The return of investment is $150 billion [in tourism income] in 10 years. It’s better than investing in stocks,” Lim added.
Aside from boosting tourism, Lim said the program also aims to develop local entrepreneurs in several regions around the country.
In a study called “The Role of Entrepreneurship in Tourism Industry: An Overview” authored by Prosperous Nongsiej and Somipam R. Shimray, Department of Management Studies, Department of Library and Information Science, Pondicherry University in India, the authors pointed out that tourism has a key role in promoting entrepreneurship and eliminating poverty.
“Tourism entrepreneurship [not only] eliminates societal problems, but [likewise boosts] the fiscal growth and development of a country, resulting to rise in country GDP,” the authors stated.
They added: “Employment has continually been a dominant subject in development. Employment is vital to successful and viable growth. The tourism business is one of the largest, fastest-growing sectors. The tourism industry is considered as an indispensable role in job creation.”
The paper also said local government units play a key role in encouraging the people to upgrade their living standards, monetary value, ecological and the cultural well-being of their societies. The paper urged national government and the LGUs to develop a policy and strategy for sustainable tourism business environments.
The paper pointed out that entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship promote business innovation and economic growth.
The authors stressed entrepreneurs are determined to bring down the unemployment rate of both skilled and unskilled workers. They are strong believers that the tourism industry is one of the key industries for driving the nation’s economy.
“Tourism has become more comprehensive of novel ideas. To sustain tourism industry, it requires, substantial long-term government support, extensive training, research and planning processes [for it] to grow and flourish. Entrepreneurship success leads to the upliftment in society livelihood in terms of economic gain,” the paper said.
Meanwhile, Lim said there are lots of opportunities that can earn a handsome return to the investors in four categories he called the five As—arrival, accommodation, attractions, access and activities.
Lim said the government should also ensure the construction and rehabilitation of airports around the country to handle the large volume both of local and foreign tourists. He also pointed out that the development of provincial airports must be accelerated to ensure travel access of tourists.
“We advocated for open [an] sky policy and we advocated for bringing in budget airlines and more airports. On arrival, meaning the infrastructure, when people arrive, how do they get into [their] destination[s]? The roads, the bridges, the communication system, and so on,” Lim said.
As far as accommodations are concerned, investors can invest in the construction of thousands of small and medium hotels for travellers going to the tourist spots around the country.
In terms of attractions, Lim said Boracay needs to pursue a long-term comprehensive plan to ensure a strong absorptive capacity in the future.
“Boracay should develop a capacity of accommodating 2 million tourists annually,” he said.
“The government should also push in marketing other places, such as Cebu, Bohol and Puerto Princesa,” Lim added.
Lim also revealed that the PCCI is currently conducting a study on the potential of 10 initial provinces for tourism investments.
These destinations include Clark, Palawan, Bicol and Ilocos in Luzon; Bohol, Iloilo/Guimaras, Dumaguete and Leyte in the Visayas; and Davao/Samal Island and Cagayan de Oro/Bukidnon in Mindanao.
Lim said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), through funding from the Canadian International Development Agency, has asked all the LGUs to submit their tourism plans.
“They [LGUs] have come up with about 40 different provinces, [and] we have trimmed them down to 20, but we are now evaluating 10 of them,” he said, noting the assessment will be based on 5As, which are important to tourism investments.
He pointed out the Philippines needs a lot of catching up to do with its Asean peers in terms of tourist arrivals.
Thailand is on top with 40 million tourists annually followed by Singapore with 20 million and Vietnam is third with 10 million.
“Right now, we are seventh or eighth. Hopefully, with this [program], we will be on top 5,”