‘Tourism is not just promotion, it’s also infrastructure’ — Villafuerte


Billy Begas

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte underscored the importance of infrastructure to attract more tourists to visit local beaches that are far better compared to what other countries in Southeast Asia have.

During the recent hearing of the Commission on Appointments (CA), Tourism Secretary Ma. Esperanza Christina Garcia-Frasco agreed with Villafuerte that the DOT should not focus alone on just promoting the country’s must-see places but also on dealing with the other issues that have for long fettered the Philippines from overtaking our neighboring countries in terms of foreign tourists arrivals.

“Basically, tourism is not just promotion, it’s also infrastructure. Your lofty goals are commendable, you understand the problem, you know the solution, but the limitation of the DOT is it seems to be focused on promotion,” said Villafuerte, the CA Majority floor leader.

Villafuerte said seamless travel from Manila to various tourist spots is needed to attract more tourists.

The solon also pointed out that an airport is the first and last place that a foreign tourist sees in a country, but the DOT has no say whatsoever how airports are run in the Philippines because these are under the supervision of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Villafuerte said the Philippines has better beaches than Phuket Island in Thailand but Phuket is a relatively more popular destination for foreign tourists, partly because of its better infrastructure.

Phuket’s airport alone is even bigger than our No. 1 gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the former Camarines Sur governor added.

“Kasi if you will analyze, ano ba meron ang Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, na wala tayo? In terms of beauty, I think our beaches are much better, but you know … we have to admit their infrastructure is much better than ours. When you land in Thailand, when you land in Malaysia, you can go to any destination with seamless travel,” he noted.

The solon continued, “Here if you land in the airport and you want to go to Boracay, Bukidnon or Bicol there is no linkage.”

Garcia-Frasco has assured lawmakers the DOT is working with the different agencies on crafting a “whole-of-government” approach to addressing nagging concerns including inadequate infrastructures.

In the absence of an infrastructure development budget under the DOT, Garcia-Frasco pushed for the establishment of a tourism infrastructure development fund to allow her agency to build facilities that cannot be put up by other agencies.

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