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Interview

Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr (Philippines Secretary of Tourism): Five ASEAN tourist markets are among the top ten visitor sources for the Philippines

07 January 2016, 00:45

H.E. Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr, Philippines Secretary of Tourism talks about the growth of the ASEAN, Chinese and global market in 2016 for the Philippines.

What are your thoughts for the Philippines vision heading towards 2020?
 
Ramon R. Jimenez: The Philippines as a nation stands firm on its vision of the country being the must experience destination in Asia. With our country’s National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2011-2016, which proved to be an effective planning and implementation mechanism in tourism development, we have shifted our major thrust towards identifying the product first and continuously improving it. 
 
Through this direction, we are set to achieve the country’s goals. We have engaged the full cooperation and collaboration of other government agencies in:
 
(1) developing and marketing competitive tourist products and destinations;
(2) addressing all the destination infrastructure needs, improving market access, and connectivity;
(3) and improving tourism institutional, governance, and tourism manpower.
 
Our dedication to tourism development is evident in the pursuance of economically viable, socially responsible, and environmentally sound programs. These efforts, along with the motivation from the inclusive growth tourism brings, ensure the continuing development of Philippine Tourism, not only for 2020 but beyond.
 
What is the expected growth of the Asean market, Chinese market and the global market for the Philippines in 2016?
 
R.J.: The Chinese market is one of the Philippine’s top five source markets for tourists, generating 415,868 inbound visitors for the first ten months of 2015. Trends show that the Chinese market is one of the most lucrative income-generating source markets of the Philippines and will continue to be in the next five years.
 
As the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) draws near, we in the tourism sector, are fortunate that tourism is one of the 12 ‘priority’ sectors identified in the AEC roadmap. Making it to the 12 priority sectors, therefore, demands our full commitment. We foresee the huge potential in the growth of ASEAN traffic with the implementation of the ASEAN Open Skies Policy.  The ASEAN market’s share to total Philippine arrivals has steadily increased from six percent in 2001 to ten percent in 2014.  We are confident with the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s projection for Philippine tourism, which sees tourist arrivals in the country rising by 11 percent, climbing at least 5 notches above the previous level (UNWTO, 2013).
 
In fact, five ASEAN tourist markets are among the top ten visitor sources for the Philippines. For the first ten months of the year, Korea is undisputed in its pole position as the number one source for inbound tourist traffic with over 1,099,192 visitor arrivals, taking a quarter of the pie of the entire market. Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), on the other hand, has the highest growth rate at 24.33% at number six, with 150,531 tourist arrivals. 
 
Finally, people will continue to travel around the world at a rate we have never seen before. The improving connectivity and the wide range of flights offered by full service and low cost carriers will stimulate travel. Short-haul destinations will remain popular especially among first-time travelers. The ones with more travel experience and higher disposable incomes will go for long-haul and exotic destinations. The growing young working class or the new millennials will lead the pack of travelers. We will also see large numbers of families traveling both domestic and overseas.
 
What impact, if any, will the general election next year have on the tourism board and or visitors?
 
R.J.: The Aquino Administration recognized tourism as one of the key economic drivers, pouring in tremendous support for tourism development and marketing efforts throughout the country. The outcome of the upcoming general elections will certainly influence the way the tourism board steers its direction and pursues its programs for the next six years. People would certainly like to see our growth sustained and that will hopefully be ushered in by the new administration. Where we are now is very different from the time we started in 2011. We have just planted the seeds, and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure that the developments we started will not go to waste and that progress will be sustained.
 
Are there any key festivals in 2016 that you would like to highlight?
 
R.J.: In addition to the special incentives featured under our “Visit the Philippines Again 2016” (VPA 2016) campaign, the Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) and Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) have lined up various events/attractions for all types of tourists and travelers such as the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2016, Routes Asia 2016, Madrid Fusion Manila, 2016 Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific championship, MTV Music Evolution 2016 among many others.
 
Are you strengthening or growing any collaborations or partnerships in 2016?
 
R.J.: Yes, the Philippines will not only continue its partnership with the ASEAN, Dialogue Partners and International Organizations, but will further strengthen and look into possible programs and initiatives that will advance interrelationships between the Philippines and other organizations.
 

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