Expert sees investment in infra to bolster tourism in Phl

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THEPHILBIZNEWS FILE Photo/Mau Victa

By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios

While there’s a bullish forecast on the recovery of the Philippine tourism in the post-pandemic world, further growth is expected to be achieved if this will be supported with the necessary infrastructure, underscored by industry stakeholders.

Hence, the need to invest in the infrastructure development is crucial to further accelerate and bolster growth in our tourism industry as many tourist destinations need this. Only then that the country’s tourism can bounce back from the pandemic and aims to increase its share to the country’s economic growth, according to an industry player.

Citing the World Travel and Tourism Council, Bobby Horrigan, vice president of Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP), identified two issues that the Philippines needs to address to boost tourism growth –infrastructure and safety and security.

“We just opened the Legazpi (airport), we have Panglao (airport) –we have all of these under international airports so this is going to be the key to the opening of more hotels. I don’t blame hotel owners in the past for not building because we didn’t have the infrastructure. But now with the infrastructure coming, this is good and exciting times for the Philippines,” he said in a webinar organized by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc.

Horrigan said more 4-star to 5-star hotels are coming up.

“So tourism is going to be big,” he said. “Let’s build more and more hotels because we need to compete with Thailand and Malaysia and I truly believe that we have the right people. And our overseas workers, they are bringing in the money and eventually, they are all gonna retire here, (and) all their kids.”

Horrigan said that pre-coronavirus disease, the Department of Tourism-accredited 3-star to 4-star hotels reached 2,882.

He said developing more infrastructure like airports and hotels is crucial to tourism growth.

“Tourism is back finally after we were really hit for two years… I get to travel on a weekly basis, I’m all around the Philippines. So I see what’s happening in the Philippines, the flights are full everywhere,” he added.

Horrigan said tourism is one of the major keys to reducing poverty in the country.

“We have 21 million people in poverty. Let’s concentrate on tourism because every tourism we can bring in will take out one person in poverty so if we have 8.7 million tourists pre-Covid, if we bring to 30 to 40 million, we will get everybody out of poverty,” he added.

Horrigan said about 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) relies on tourism.

“We want to definitely bring it up to 20 percent, the same as Malaysia and Thailand.  (The) trickle (down) effect (is) maybe 25 percent so tourism is very, very big and we have to take this very, very seriously,” he said.

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