BACOLOD

Tourism dep't eyes 5.5M tourist arrivals next year

MANILA -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) hopes to attract 5.5 million tourists in 2013 with its "More Fun in the Philippines" campaign.

Appearing before the House committee on appropriations, Tourism Undersecretary for Promotions Daniel Corpuz said that DOT's "ambitious budget" will help achieve its equally ambitious target of tourist arrivals.

"In terms of tourism performance, we ended 2011 with 3.9 million. We hope to end 2012 with 4.5 million and target an additional 1 million visitors for next year that will give us 5.5 million tourist arrivals," Corpuz said.

He said 2.5 million tourists have arrived in the country between January and July this year.

The Budget department has allocated a P2.9-billion budget for the DOT, P2.6 billion of which will go to the Office of the Secretary. Some P307.7 million will go to the National Parks and Development Corporation and P38 million will go to the Intramuros Administration.

The campaign "It's More Fun in the Philippines" was launched a few months after President Benigno Aquino III appointed Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. He replaced Alberto Lim, former executive director of the Makati Business Club.

"The greatest impediment to growth and tourism is plain and simple ignorance. The world was ignorant of the Philippines," Jimenez told the House appropriations committee after showing a short video presentation as part of the Tourism department's campaign.

Lanao del Sur Representative Pangalian Balindong, meanwhile, asked the DOT to address runway congestion in the country's airports.

Jimenez explained that the problem of congestion has become apparent since domestic trips have almost quadrupled in the last three years. In 2008, domestic trips were recorded at only eight million and number increased to 30 million this year. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

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