THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is scheduled to convene the Tourism Coordinating Council (TCC) to address urgent issues confronting the country’s tourism industry.

In a press statement by DOT, Tourism Chief Wanda Teo noted the need to “reactivate” the TCC after tourism industry leaders expressed increased concerns over tourism security and insufficient infrastructure.

TCC is composed of officials from at least nine government agencies, headed by the DOT Secretary. The council is tasked to ensure the smooth implementation of the government’s tourism programs.

According to the DOT, TCC has not convened for over a year despite widespread alarm over kidnapping of foreigners, poor access roads and lack of direct flights to tourist destinations.

Philippine National Police Chief Rolando Dela Rosa has assured police visibility in tourist areas and augmentation of the Tourist Police units. Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade, likewise, guaranteed improvements of airport facilities all over the country.

“Sec. Tugade said airport renovations are already ongoing and new routes, as well as direct flights to from abroad to Manila and Clark. They are also resolving the shortage of yellow taxicabs,” Teo said in a statement.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar has also promised to improve and build more “airport-to-paradise roads” in the country’s tourist destinations.

Traffic congestion, destruction of historical sites, massive number of street people and “colorum” tour guides and taxi services were also raised during the open forum between Teo’s team and tourist industry leaders, the agency said.

“We cannot sweep these issues under the rug. It is the mandate of the Tourism Coordinating Council to resolve such issues,” Teo stressed.

Last Monday, Tugade apologized to airline passengers for the closure of the runway in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) which caused delays and cancellations of some domestic and international flights.

The NAIA runway was temporarily closed for the repair of a five-inch deep crack on the asphalt overlay. The emergency repair caused 28 flight diversions and at least 40 cancelled flights.

Foreign assessors estimated 12.5 million tourists will enter the Philippines in 2022 if the tourism momentum is kept under President Duterte’s administration.

Cebu tourism stakeholders identified airport development and improvement of key tourism related infrastructure across the country as some of the factors that will help the agency meet the tourism arrivals target, alongside the need to educate and empower the local government units to develop tourism hubs and attractions.

The DOT is eyeing six new markets to boost tourism arrivals and receipts—Thailand, India, Vietnam, Russia, Indonesia and the Middle East.