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Govt to meet 6M tourist by 2016 - DOT PDF Print E-mail

MANILA, Oct.13 (PNA)-- The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Wednesday said it is confident to meet the six million tourist arrivals target by 2016.

"I am confident we will be able to reach our target of doubling tourist arrivals by 2016. A liberal civil aviation policy is one of the keys to opening up investments in hotels and accommodations, as proven in Bali [Indonesia]," Alberto Lim, Tourism secretary told participants of the 36th Philippine Business Conference and Exposition in Manila Hotel.

The goal of the Aquino administration is to meet six million tourist arrivals by 2016 and tourism earnings to be around .6 billion, contributing 6.35 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Over the six years period, the industry is envisioned to create three million new jobs.

In the first six months, tourist arrivals rose by 12 percent to 1.7 million compared to the same period last year.

For the full year, Lim said, "We are anticipating a 10 percent growth or about 3.3 million visitors."

Last year, the international tourist arrivals went down by 3.9 percent.

Lim, however, said that the six million tourist arrivals target will be realized if the government will implement strategies to grow the industry.

These are creating greater access to the country, building infrastructure to support tourism development, upgrading of quality/standards of tourism products, sustained marketing and promotions, increasing private investments in tourism establishments and involving local governments and communities in tourism development.

Lim also plans to remove taxes on airline industry through legislation.

"We are the only country that charges airlines a tax on gross income - 3 percent common carriers tax and 2.5 percent gross billings tax. Most affeted are the long haul carriers which have threatened to leave as their operations have become marginally profitable," Lim added.

Lim added that DOT is working with the Department of Transpotation and Communications, Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Energy in prioritizing roads, airports, waterworks and power plant needed in our priority destinations.

"We have recommended a new airport in Bohol and the extension of the Puerto Princesa City among the top Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects," Lim said.

The DOT official also said that the country's medical and wellness tourism program will target a more significant share of the world's aging population who seek less expensive health care and warmer climes for rest and retirement.

"We have a competitive advantage of having a surplus of the world's best care givers who have good language skills," he said. (PNA)

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