MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is appealing to foreign tourists to continue visiting the Philippines as this can help speed up rebuilding efforts following the devastation caused by the recent calamities that hit the country.
“Tourism continues to be one of the major contributors to the economy, playing a significant role in rebuilding lives and businesses in communities,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said in a statement in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
As this developed, the DOT started an initiative to give out special tourism bookmarks to travelers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)-1.
“These bookmarks are being given away by our airport staff in both Manila and Cebu airports after the final check-in (last x-ray counter) and this will run for the next couple of weeks,” Jimenez said.
“The bookmarks are for outbound foreign visitors as a token for bearing with the Filipino people during this most difficult time,” he said.
“We understand that most of these departing foreigners were in the Philippines when Yolanda hit us and in one way or another, they might have been inconvenienced during their stay with us. As a token of apology and appreciation, we are giving away these bookmarks to foreign tourists leaving the country in hopes that they will realize that we appreciate them for having the Philippines as their destination of choice,” he added.
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“We are also hoping that through this simple gesture, they will remember positive things about the country and tell their relatives/friends to go and experience the genuine Filipino hospitality.”
For this year alone, tourism receipts – the money spent by foreign visitors in traveling to the country – is seen to reach $4.95 billion. Next year, it is expected that the receipts would further increase to $6.07 billion.
Tourism receipts have been on the rise for the past years. In 2011, it stood at $2.99 billion and grew to $3.82 billion in 2012.
Jimenez also said despite these unfortunate incidents, the Philippines remains a safe and fun destination for all tourists.
The DOT, he said, is also engaged in the safety and monitoring of tourist movement in all affected areas and has no reports so far of any endangerment.
“The DOT’s objective is to focus on quick recovery so that tourism income is restored at the soonest possible time. Bulletin announcements will be posted via the DOT website (www.tourism.gov.ph), while DOT overseas and regional offices are also on standby to assist potential travellers and those already in the country for travel information. Local tour companies are in constant communication with their counterparts abroad to provide updates on the situation,” he said.
The DOT chief also assured the traveling public that tourism establishments and tourism activities continue and remain in operation in the other parts of the Philippines, which play host to some of the country’s key tourist destinations.
“The great majority of touristic products are available, whether one is looking for a beach vacation, historical trip, gastronomic tour, or one of the many other possible travel opportunities, he said.
“The country is home to some of the world’s great tourist sites and adventures with its unparalleled natural wonders, spectacular beaches, world-renowned heritage sites, modern shopping complexes, rich biodiversity, culture, and history,” he added.
The top destinations in the Visayas region continue to be accessible through their respective ports of entry: Boracay Island through Kalibo and Caticlan, Cebu through the Mactan International Airport, Bohol through the Tagbilaran Airport, Iloilo through the Iloilo and Bacolod Silay Airports, and Puerto Princesa, Palawan through the Puerto Princesa Airport.