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Air connectivity key to Phl’s tourism and hospitality recovery, expert reveals

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By Monsi A. Serrano

Acknowledging the upward trend of the travel boom in the world, the former Department of Tourism undersecretary and spokesperson Benito “Bong” Bengzon and now Philippine Hotel Owners Association (PHOA) Executive Director sees many silver linings in Philippine tourism and hospitality industry.

Speaking during the year-end industry media briefing held at the Park Inn by Radisson North EDSA in Quezon City on Nov. 21, 2023, Bengzon is optimistic about the global trend in tourism and sees this as an opportunity for the Philippines to seize.

While he admits that there are inevitable challenges that the hotels are facing such as staffing shortages, recruitment, and retention, among others, he sees this as an opportunity for the country to take advantage of given the upward trajectory trend of the travel boom and the bullish sentiments of investors and developers to bankroll tourism and hospitality related investments.

He also noted that while this will pave the way for the country’s tourism recovery, but how fast the Philippines can recover will depend also on some complimenting programs that the government will do.

Bengzon identified that air connectivity will be a game changer in accelerating the recovery and eventually reaching the pre-pandemic level of tourist arrivals in the country.

Citing the uniqueness of the Philippines’ geographical landscape, compared with our neighbors in the region, Bengzon noted the need for more airports to ensure more tourism will be enticed to visit the Philippines and have fun.

“The Philippines compared with our ASEAN neighbors is almost entirely dependent on airplanes to bring in foreign tourists. Our friends in the region can move their tourists from one place to another via land (or boat), like Malaysia and Thailand for instance. You can go around Malaysia by traveling by land and even go to other neighboring countries that would not require airplanes to transport the tourists, that is their edge and also the reason why the number of foreign tourists in their country is higher than in the Philippines,” Bengzon said.

In the sideline interview with THEPHILBIZNEWS Bengzon pointed out the opportunity for the Philippines to seize as the travel boom continues and bared that there will be more hotels to be built in the country not just in Metro Manila and Cebu, but also in other parts of the country.

“The pandemic had truly struck hard the tourism and hospitality industry of the country. Now we see the trend and the rosy forecast of the World Tourism Organization about the numbers and recovery as many events are happening and year-long reservations for various occasions are taking starting again,” he said.

“Hotel owners and stakeholders in tourism and hospitality learned a lot from the pandemic and that made the entire industry in the country resilient. The adaption to digital technology to enhance customer experience and ensure efficiency will also contribute to the recovery. And now that we are in the post-pandemic, the industry has come back to life and ready to seize the opportunity to make recovery faster. The media plays a vital role in helping the industry recover faster and we hope that soon, and let us hope that the information we provided such as the need to build more airports in order to address air connectivity will surely spell a lot of difference in achieving our desired number of tourist arrivals in the country,” Bengzon concluded.

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