Secure Environment for Tourists-A A +A
Check and Balance
Monday, August 27, 2012
THE Philippines should improve its tourism industry by providing a secure environment for wary and unsuspecting tourists who become victims of pickpockets, holdups, robberies, murder, extortion, rape and kidnapping.
Unconscionable taxi drivers also overcharge foreign visitors. Well, it happens everywhere, I had seen taxi drivers in Saigon overcharging their passengers for a short ride. Hotel owners said the crimes are mostly committed on tourists by notorious criminal groups.
With only 3.9 million tourist arrivals recorded in 2011, the Philippines is last on the list topped by Malaysia with 25 million tourists seconded by Thailand with 19 million and Singapore with 13.2 million. Vietnam had 6 million visitors leaving behind the Philippines in the tourism industry.
So how can we improve our tourism industry? Improve anti-crime efforts and programs for the tourists and do away with the extortion that happens right at the airport terminals in the country. I had seen how passengers hesitate to travel because of their bad experience with Immigration or PNP personnel. How can we encourage every Juan Dela Cruz to travel then if they dread the profiling of the Immigration or the extortion by other agencies, etc?
Hotel owners believe that good security for tourists in the Philippines will transform it into a world-class destination. There should be collaboration between the PNP and hotel owners or even airline operators for the setting up of a secure environment for the visitors. It’s a good thing that there are now the so-called ‘tourist police’ in Angeles City but that does not prevent criminal groups from victimizing or even slaying tourists. Police visibility is good but how far it can go to curb crimes against tourists?
There is one recommendation to “sanitize routes from the airport to hotel and back” but when will that happen? The Department of Tourism has already unveiled a P266-billion National Tourism Development Plan aimed at increasing foreign tourist arrivals at 10 million and local tourist to 35.5 million by 2016.
The DOT expected to bring in 4.6 million tourists for this year but that means we are still at the bottom of the Asean list in terms of tourist arrivals.
The other issues that apparently stunted tourism industry in the country include uncompetitive tourist destinations and products; limited flights and seat capacities, including the poor quality and limited capacity of international and domestic transportation and infrastructure destination, as well as other restrictions that have limited market access; and weak public-sector tourism governance and human-resources development policies and practices.
We all should develop and market competitive tourist products and destinations; improve market access, connectivity and destination infrastructure; and improve tourism’s institutional, governance and industry manpower capabilities. The airlines that operate in the Clark International Airport are doing all these. In fact, Seair has supported the DOT’s them “It’s more fun in the Philippines” by putting it in their aircraft’s fuselage.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 27, 2012.