IS PHILIPPINE tourism a major dollar-earning industry? If we want a positive answer, we need to invest more funds in tourism development. That simply means that we have to build or upgrade facilities of our tourist establishments.
Tourism is a front door to poverty alleviation. Where do we start? The trademark should be quality and safety. An excellent tourism program will create enormous impact to our economy. This will be a substantial source of foreign exchange. (Philippine economy is dependent on dollars. Let us not just rely on our brothers and sisters working abroad. Let us create jobs and livelihood in the provinces.)
Our ecological attractions make beautiful destinations. Let us not follow the example of Boracay. Biodiversity in Boracay no longer exists. We have killed Boracay. It was once a paradise, now it is a market place. The market still generates income but not for a longer time. Soon Boracay is a goner. If we want to rehabilitate Boracay, we have to do it now. Our Department of Tourism and our national leaders should have the political will.
Medical tourism is a new guy in the corner. This is a new intellection in the tourism world. It combines medical science and tourism for foreign tourists (those with money). It is a unique coalescence of health and tourism services in one package.
We are now in a global age wherein health care and hospitalization are given a special concern. Tourists from first world countries are looking for top-rated medical treatment plus entertaining relaxation in a manner of health holiday outside their boring industrialized complex.
That can be done in the Philippines. We have a favorable climate here.
Our specialized hospitals should not just offer medical-dental services.
Tourism targets could include cosmetics and remedial surgery. Let us perfect our offer for liposuction and rhinoplasty (nose job). To rake in multi-billion dollars, we have our Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) helping us. In the Bacolod-Talisay-Silay Tourism Circuit, Talisay has the edge (being nearer Bacolod) and Silay to follow soon because of the assistance of the United Nations Habitat.
We are positioning our area (in particular) as a strong potential of becoming a shopping paradise and retirement haven. The infrastructures start to boom and the malls mushroom.
In the Island of Sweet Surprises (Negros), we have beaches and natural resources. Investors should now start thinking of having world-class retirement villages for Filipinos abroad that have green money and the senior citizens of other countries who want a place like the Philippines to live a life of royalty.
The Philippines is a global player in information and communication technology. In our country, we have the rise of call centers and they are almost everywhere. Multinational companies engaging in computer technology and borderless economy come to like the attitude of our workers. They are effective if employed to do in-house work or they could be subcontracted.
Our workers perform well for credit and collection, bookkeeping, payroll accounting, internal audit functions, messengerial and janitorial services, and computer-related services. Pinoy workers are innovative and love to work overtime (with proper pay). Old hogs in business remain traditional but those who embrace the technology are into Business Process Outsourcing, and Knowledge Process Outsourcing. Tourism is anywhere there.
Business is tourism and tourism is business. We need to build a strong and vibrant middle class, the new entrepreneurial class. That could be the reason why here in Negros we have “Negosyo Centers” in our local government units (LGUs), and we are trying to institutionalize investment officers so that we can have the proper system for all these. Some LGUs like Bacolod, Talisay, and Silay are being assisted by the Local Government Support Program for Local Economic Development.
Tourism is developing new faces: agricultural productivity through modern technology, organic agriculture through the indigenous methods in farming, sound rural development program, and alternative and renewable sources of energy.
A tourism officer is not just for meet-and-greet. Above anything else, he should be an economic manager, because his programs are all geared towards earning dollars to boost our economy.