Department of Tourism (DOT) has expanded its arrival goals for the next six years.
DOT plans to reach 12 million tourism arrivals annually by 2022, said Czarina Zara-Loyola, director of the DOT’s public affairs and advocacy office said.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Loyola said, expects to exceed annual targets.
“If we exceed annual targets, and we will, better iyon,” she said.
In a statement, Teo said the government is working to increase tourist arrivals in the country through partnerships with neighboring countries, as well as airlines and other industry stakeholders.
However, Loyola assured that despite raising its target arrivals, the DOT is pushing for sustainable and responsible tourism.
“May mga area na kapag congested na, hindi na natin doon dadalhin [ang mga turista]. The goal of this administration under Secretary Wanda Teo is to develop and introduce new tourist sites,” she said.
This can be seen in the Miss Universe pageant activities, which kicked off last month with visits of titlists from 12 countries to different spots in the Philippines.
She also emphasized that they will not raise tourism targets further until there is sufficient infrastructure to accommodate arrivals.
“Hindi naman natin sabihing basta magdadala kami ng mga turista dito. Siyempre, ang tanong pa rin diyan, mayroon bang mauupuan sa eroplano? Sa lugar, mayroon bang matutuluyang mga hotel? Kapag mapo-provide natin iyan, that’s the time na increase natin ang target natin,” she said.
The DOT expects more tourists to come to the country next year due to the Miss Universe pageant, which will be staged in the country.
Teo also expects up to 3 million Chinese tourists to visit the Philippines, after the two countries signed a memorandum of agreement on tourism cooperation, which aims to give the DOT a “better opportunity” to market the Philippines to travelers from its Asian neighbor.
Several direct flights, the DOT said, were also launched this year, such as flights to Laoag from Guangzhou, and from Changi International Airport to Cebu.
They are also preparing to welcome more visitors from Cambodia, Teo said, after the Philippines signed an agreement to start a series of programs that aim to revitalize tourism between the two countries.
Other events that may draw travelers to the country include Madrid Fusion Manila, an international culinary festival; the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit; and high-level conferences of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Aside from tapping partners, DOT recently approached current Miss Universe titleholder Pia Wurtzbach to be a tourism ambassador.
Earlier this month, the House Committee on Tourism approved a proposal to designate boxer-senator Manny Pacquiao as spokesperson for the DOT’s upcoming campaign to promote Philippine attractions around the world.