Friday, February 8, 2008

DOT: US$5.8-B quota on tourist spending for '08 achievable

Cebu City (5 February) -- Tourism Secretary Joseph "Ace" Durano expressed confidence that the US $5.8B quota on tourist spending for 2008 will be achieved as the Department of Tourism (DOT) has already surpassed its quota on tourist spending three years ahead of time.

Durano said under the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan, the DOT was given a quota of US $4.8B tourist spending by 2010; which means that the total amount of money spent by tourists coming into the country must reach at least US$4.8B by the year 2010.

The tourism secretary however proudly bared that last year alone, the tourist spending already amounted to US$ 4.88B or a little over P200B which means the department has already surpassed its target three years ahead of the deadline.

Durano said they are looking at maintaining the eight to 10 percent growth in tourist volume and increasing the average length of stay of the foreign visitors to meet their self-imposed quota of tourist spending of US$1B dollars more.

Because at the end of the day, what matters most is how important these dollar inputs are to the growth of the economy, Durano further said.

The DOT is looking at a three-pronged approach to meet their tourist spending quota that are tourist volume, length of stay and what these tourists spend for, this is learned.

Durano said it is important to know where tourists spend their money so the tourism sector could offer more on these preferred services as the tourism chief cited the need to promote high-value services like health and wellness, education, sports diving and shopping. Tour operators on the other hand, can charge higher for high-value services, this is said.

Asked whether a strong peso will affect the country's tourism growth, Durano replied that "we have never positioned the Philippines as a cheap destination" but rather "a value-for-money" tourist vacation haven. The focus is more on the value of tourist spending rate and not on volume, Durano stressed.

Durano said the tourist arrivals from Europe were a big help in achieving their target quota on tourist spending three years ahead of the deadline. Much of our 8.7 percent growth in tourist arrivals was helped by the strong growth of the European market where Scandinavians posted a double digit growth while Russia was the fastest growing market with a growth of 16 percent last year alone, Durano revealed.

Although Europe only constituted about nine percent of total tourist arrivals last year but they spend more going for high-end services, this is said.

The DOT is closely coordinating with the Middle Eastern Airlines as these air carriers are the ones that offer direct access to the European market which can support the momentum of the European tourist market coming in to the Philippines, Durano ended. (PIA-Cebu/FCR)

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