THE umbrella organization of exporters has now included tourism as a priority sector that will boost the country’s export performance.
Philexport Cebu executive director Fred Escalona said they will be adding tourism as a new sector under their organization which the existing health and wellness sectors shall fall under.
“Tourism is classified as reverse exports. We earn the foreign exchange here in our own backyard. This will strengthen the other facets of tourism,” said Escalona.
Philexport serves as the support organization for export industries. In Cebu, it serves as the voice for the furniture; gifts, decors and housewares; fashion accessories, food, garments, electronics and services sectors.
Escalona said specific Philexport programs geared toward invigorating tourism will be announced in the coming months. He said tourism plays a critical role in Cebu’s economy on the back of the huge receipts it is bringing to the local coffers.
Central Visayas tourism receipts stood at P44.2 billion last year from the eight million tourists (both local and foreign) who visited the region.
Cebu province specifically welcomed 2.8 million foreign arrivals and 2.7 million local tourists last year.
In a recent presentation before the exporters, Mina Gabor, Philexport’s new trustee for tourism and chairperson of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) highlighted tourism as an export product.
She defined tourism export as the spending within a country by international tourists for products and services during their leisure and business travels.
“It doesn’t matter what the goods or services are. It doesn’t matter how it is sent. It can be shipped, sent by courier or carried in personal luggage on a plane. If it is produced domestically and sold to someone from a foreign country, it is an export product,” said Gabor.
Part of the plan to boost tourism exports include the creation of an association of producers, identification of unique quality, innovative, designed products to sell as well as setting up an arts and crafts village in Cebu or Davao and organizing them similar to the House of Negros to immediately cater to foreign visitors.
These programs according to Gabor are aimed at capturing quality big-spending tourists like those from South Korea, China, India, US, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia and the identified long-staying guests like the overseas Filipinos, and citizens from New Zealand, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, India, United States and South Korea.
The group also wants to lure big groups to visit the country like Taiwanese, Koreans, Indians and Japanese.
Under the NTDP, the tourism sector is expected to grow at an average of 10 percent per year and contribute P3.9 trillion to the country’s gross domestic product by 2022. (KOC)