Ahead of her appointment as Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary and the youngest member of the Cabinet so far under the incoming administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Liloan Mayor Christina Garcia-Frasco on Monday (June 27) paid a visit to the DOT Central Office in Makati City to meet with the Department’s top officials.
Makati City, Philippines – Incoming Tourism Chief Christina Garcia-Frasco will bank on her extensive local government experience and perspective to make the country’s tourism industry “a major pillar” for economic recovery and resiliency.
Frasco made the pronouncement on Monday (June 27), as she visited the DOT Central Office in Makati—where she received a warm welcome from the Department’s employees and officials who committed their full support to the Secretary-designate.
“I look forward to giving truth to President-elect Bongbong Marcos’ vision for the tourism industry to become a major pillar for economic recovery and resilience. I look forward as well to examining all of the plans and programs that have already been set in place, as well as presenting new additions and innovations to the successful programs, all with a cohesive vision of not only bringing back the Philippines to its standing in the global stage, but uplifting our country to its full potential to occupy a primary position globally—that is the birthright of every Filipino,” said the incoming Secretary.
Prior to her role as the new Secretary of Tourism, Frasco has been serving as Mayor of Liloan, Cebu since June 2016. A multi-awarded local chief executive, Frasco was also rated as the Top Performing Mayor in Central Visayas in the same year and is also the National Vice President of the League of Municipalities. Under Frasco’s leadership, the Municipality of Liloan became a four-time recipient of an “Unqualified Opinion’, the highest audit rating given by the Commission on Audit (CoA).
The incoming Secretary also shared her initial strategies for her term, one of which is employing a multidimensional approach to tourism, where focus for development is not only on natural resources but also on the promotion of people and products, as well as a strong national and local government collaboration.
“I believe that national and local government cooperation is imperative for our tourism plans and programs to succeed because we all know that if we uplift the economic status of one LGU, and translate that to the over 1,400 plus municipalities, 81 provinces, and over a hundred cities across the country, uplifting each of their economies will uplift the economy of our nation as a whole. It is this inclusive, sustainable, innovative, and collaborative tourism governance that I intend to bring to the Department of Tourism,” explained Frasco.
Frasco, who met with the department’s regional directors for the first time, disclosed that her administration intends to capture not just foreign tourists, but also domestic tourists to help rFrasco,evive and revitalize the tourism industry. The Cebuana lawyer admits that she considers her home province special, but assured stakeholders that other destinations, particularly Mindanao, will likewise be developed and promoted as tourism destinations.
“Of course, my heart has a special place for Cebu where I’m from but at the same time, I’m keenly aware that in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and the over 7,000 islands in our archipelagic country, there is a wealth of opportunity as far as developing other tourist destinations. We have a general vision that is set by our President to revitalize the tourism industry and to ensure that it is inclusive in that we spread development to the countryside. And this means giving focus to all regions in the Philippines,” Frasco enthused.
“The Mindanao region has some of the most beautiful destinations that our country has. By exerting extra effort on the part of the Department of Tourism to reach out to this region, to exert the services, the talents, the expertise of the members of the Department to ensure that the stakeholders receive the appropriate training, promotion and marketability that they deserve. I intend to be judged not by my words but by my work. And we will work hard to help Mindanao rise to its full potential,” added Frasco.
In terms of changes to the industry amid the rising COVID-19 cases, Frasco commits to working towards striking a balance between the lives and the livelihood of Filipinos, going back to her experience as a local leader in Cebu.
“If we continue to allow ourselves to be shackled by the fear of the pandemic, rather than revising our perspective to learn how to live with this virus in a manner that is responsible and conscious of health protocols, then not only lives will be lost, but livelihoods as well. When people lose their livelihoods and are left hungry and without opportunities for income they may lose their lives as well. So it’s very important to strike a balance between lives and livelihood,” explained the incoming tourism chief.
Moreover, Frasco noted the need to examine whether there should be a liberalization of existing health and safety protocols to revitalize the tourism industry, citing the recent move of Singapore and other neighbouring countries to lift the mask mandate for outdoor areas.
“I defer to the wisdom of both the current and the incoming administration as far as the maintenance or liberalization of health protocols is concerned. I only wish to bring to the attention of the necessary decision-makers, the necessity of balancing life and livelihood and examining closely the health and safety protocols that will serve best the preservation of not just life but also the economy and the how best we can proceed that can promote and not further derail the tourism destinations within our country,” said Frasco.