Full support for Teo assured

CEBU’s tourism stakeholders vowed to work with the new administration to boost tourism marketing efforts of the Philippines, especially in the international scene.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Melanie Ng said they hope to see more exciting programs that will further promote Cebu and the region.

u201cThere are a number of tourism marketing programs that were successful in the past and current administrations. We hope these programs can be evaluated and those that worked, can be improved on, so as to garner faster and better results for the next administration,” said Ng.

Earlier this week, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte announced Davao-based Wanda Corazon Teo as the tourism chief to replace Ramon Jimenez Jr. after President Benigno Aquino III’s term ends on June 30.

Teo is the owner of Mt. Apo Travel and Tours and the president of National Association and Independent Travel Agencies (Naitas) Philippines Inc., one of the biggest tourism organizations in the country.

One of Cebu’s tourism advocates Jonathan Jay Aldeguer, president and chief executive officer of The Islands Group, said the new admin may build on the gains the sector has experienced in the past decades.

u201cI’m just looking forward to see someone continue the momentum our industry has been experiencing in the past decade or so,” said Aldeguer. “What’s always going to be critical is the close coordination between agencies such as the Department of Transportation and Communications, the Department of Public Works and Highways and others, as these are important to roll out critical tourism projects.”

Colleagues

Teo’s appointment as tourism chief was announced along with Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell Ubial for the Deparment of Health and Go Negosyo executive director Ramon Lopez for the Department of Trade and Industry.

During yesterday’s Tourism Forum at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, Ng emphasized that the chamber will work closely with the tourism stakeholders to put pressure on the new administration to create more tourism programs and marketing initiatives that will accelerate the momentum of the tourism industry.

Images of popular Philippine tourist destinations like Cebu, Bohol, Palawan and Banaue recently dominated London’s Waterloo Train Station from April 23 to May 24.

Images of these sites were shown in 10-inch wide high-definition screens installed at key points of the Waterloo Station.

This project is part of Department of Tourism’s “Station Domination” project.

While infrastructure remains one of the critical factors in tourism growth, GMCAC chief executive adviser Andrew Harrison yesterday pointed out that improving the country’s visa facilitation is another equally important ingredient to boost arrivals to the country and spur economic growth.

u201cVisa affects people’s choice of travel,” said Harrison, during the open forum.

He noted that GMCAC is coordinating with the government in looking at ways to make the country’s visa processing more relaxed, especially to certain nationalities that the country wants to attract.

He noted that implementing visa electronic system and visa on arrival system are some of the things the government is looking at.

u201cInfrastructure isn’t the only important factor we should look at. We also need to re-evaluate the process and systems involved in the entry and access of these foreign visitors to our country,” said Harrison, citing the 200-percent increase of tourism in India as a result of its shift to electronic visa system.

According to the latest Visa Openness Report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the Philippines is among the top 10 countries in the world where an international traveler faces the least hassle in terms of securing a visa.

It scored 84 out of 100, indicating its openness, or the extent in which the country is facilitating tourism.

In a statement, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has been long advocating for the need to advance travel facilitation as a means to promote tourism development and multiply its socio-economic benefits.

According to UNWTO’s latest Visa Openess Report, the share of tourists requiring to obtain a visa prior to traveling continues to decline and is at its lowest level.

u201cIn 2015, 39 percent of the world population could travel for tourism without obtaining a traditional visa prior to departure as compared to only 23 percent in 2008,” the organization said.

It added that on average, 18 percent of the world’s population was able to travel to a destination without a visa in 2015, while another 15 percent could receive a visa on arrival and six percent was able to obtain e-visas.

Overall, emerging economies continue to be more open than advanced economies.

At the regional level, Southeast Asia, East Africa, the Caribbean and Oceania remain the most open areas while Central Africa, North Africa and North America were the most restrictive subregions in 2015.

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