Another plus: inclusion-A A +A
Saturday, March 23, 2013
WHETHER it is the intention or not, tourism ventures end up being inclusive businesses, a resort proprietor observed.
Lawyer Lucas Nunag, president of Amarula Resort in Bohol, admitted he did not set out to put up the resort to provide jobs. “We had no conscious policy to be an inclusive business. It evolved naturally,” he told participants of a business forum hosted by the Philippine Business for Social Progress.
Nunag explained that his employees vary in age, educational attainment, abilities and backgrounds. He believes the community around the resort, aside from his employees, has benefitted, as they end up hiring additional workers when times are busy, seeking babysitters for clients who have children and securing other services from carpenters, drivers and mechanics.
Tourism, along with agriculture, has been identified by the government as focus industries where growth is seen to become sustainable.
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras noted that tourism is one of those industries ideal for most places and is good for job generation.
For Nunag, his resort is not isolated and he believes other tourism-related businesses contribute greatly to those who find it difficult to find work because of a lack of education or skill. He cited a hotel in a city that has 60 percent of its workforce that are hearing-impaired.
This, said Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, should be the measure of successful tourism, not the number of tourists coming into the country.
“Successful tourism is about jobs resulting from those arrivals,” he said.
Though the country aims to see 10 million foreign tourists by 2016, Jimenez also noted the importance of domestic tourism, citing 40 million domestic travelers in 2012.
Though 10 million is a small number compared to what other countries are enjoying in foreign tourism numbers, Jimenez pointed out that the Philippines is separated from the rest of Southeast Asia by water. He said this means that while other countries enjoy high tourism numbers, some of these could mean short trips from neighboring countries crossing the border and returning to their homes the same day.
“Here, we don’t count the border crossers. Ninety-eight percent arrive by air and they stay at least one night,” he said.
Though some issues in the country persist, such as congested airports, Jimenez still finds the positive sidelights. “Four years ago, no one was complaining that the airport is congested during Holy Week. It was only in the bus terminals and piers.”
He believes there is a momentum for the country’s tourism growth, as the country’s arrival figures for both January and February exceeded the 400,000 mark. He believes before the month is over, the country would have gained one million.
He said that in the past, figures drop after February. But this year, arrivals reached 418,000 for that month while January saw 438,000 arrivals.
With the United States economy seeing signs of recovery, he expects more tourists from the US to visit, especially those with Filipino roots.
Jimenez said private business has done well to raise awareness for the Philippines, saying there are now 75,000 versions of “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”
He assured that the government is committed to iron out kinks in the industry, including the expansion of customs, immigration and quarantine services to other airports in the country, for a seamless flow of foreign arrivals.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 23, 2013.