SECRETARY Joseph Durano yesterday said he wants to turn over his post at the Department of Tourism (DOT) to the new administration in July 2010 as a strong industry that provides millions of jobs and billions of pesos in investments.

He said that even though the record of tourist traffic for 2009 has not been completed yet, the trend of tourist arrivals shows that the DOT hit the seven-million target.

Durano told Sun.Star Cebu that when he became DOT secretary in 2004, he didn’t expect tourism investments to reach P550 billion.

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For the past five years, four million people were directly employed in tourism-related businesses like hotels, resorts and airlines and travel agencies, he said.

This does not include the workers hired by service providers like the souvenir makers, suppliers of fish and meat to restaurants, laundry firms and janitorial firms.

“We have just found out how big the challenges moving forward (in the tourism industry) are because tourists come to the Philippines for its good weather and beautiful beaches, but these are now under threat by climate change,” Durano said.

Durano said direct flights from the different countries to Cebu are of great help in increasing the number of tourist arrivals.

“Last year, we saw the growth of international tourist traffic coming to Cebu from Russia and China. This was realized because of chartered flights that the DOT and other government agencies and the private sector assembled,” Durano said.

There are now direct flights from Guangzhou (China) to Cebu and, it is hoped, Moscow to Cebu, by the second quarter of this year.