PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has approved the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023 to 2028, which aims to transform the country into a tourism powerhouse in Asia.

In a press conference in Malacañang following a sectoral meeting with the President on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said the NTDP is the result of consultation among the tourism coordinating council and various tourism stakeholders from across the country.

She said it will serve as the blueprint and the development framework for the tourism industry under the administration.

"These objectives involve not simply the promotion of the Philippines which we will continue domestically and internationally but also, more importantly, addressing the essential issues of tourism development, including the development of infrastructure, connectivity, as well as digitalization, the equalization of tourism, development, and promotion, the enhancement of overall tourism experience as well as the strengthening of tourism governance," she said.

Frasco said programs under NTDP will be anchored on Filipino culture, heritage, and identity.

It also aimed to provide more jobs to Filipinos by developing tourism circuits and continuing to push for tourism across the regions and provinces.

Frasco said they are “recalibrating” the budget intended for the tourism plan taking into consideration events that the country will be hosting in the coming years.

In 2022, the country’s international arrivals reached 2.65 million, surpassing the agency’s target of 1.7 million foreign visitors, which translated to P214 billion or roughly $4 billion in estimated revenues, exceeding the targeted revenue of P155.03 billion by 38.06 percent.

She said it also resulted in 5.2 million in employment for Filipinos.

For this year, the DOT’s target for foreign visitors is at 4.8 million, the same level before the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic struck the world.

Frasco said also part of the NTDP is changing the country’s tourism slogan, which will highlight the Filipino culture, festivals, food cultural heritage and local products.

“Everything that makes us diverse and unique and a proud Filipino people gives us pride of place,” she said.

"We are putting forth the best of the best of the Philippines to the world because it cannot be denied that we do give the world our best and while the DOT has not yet come out with an enhanced tourism slogan as that as a country brand, I assure you you’ll love it," she added.

Meanwhile, amid the slight increase of Covid-19 cases in the country, Frasco said the Philippines will continue to open up its gateway for travel and tourism.

She noted that Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency based on the declaration of the World Health Organization (WHO).

But she said they are fully supportive of the health and safety protocols to prevent the further spread of the virus.

"Of course, all the minimum health and safety standards are in place and this is also made sure of as far as compliance with our DOT accredited establishments," she said. (SunStar Philippines)