The government will undertake a P12 billion infrastructure program this year to support the influx of around 54 million local and foreign tourists the Philippines targets to attract by 2016.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said that under his department’s convergence program with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the budget has been programmed for construction, improvement, rehabilitation and widening of local roads leading to tourist destinations.
Under the tourism infrastructure program, another P13.15 billion will be earmarked for next year, P14.46 billion for 2015 and P15.91 billion for 2016.
Jimenez said they are also working closely with other government departments “to make sure that the demand we created is met with resources.�
“Creating the demand turned to be the easy part of the job. The hard part is actually being ready to be worthy of that demand,” Jimenez noted in an economic briefing, after the country surpassed its 2016 target of 35.5 million domestic trips as early as end-2012. Actual figure reached 37.5 million last year.
He said President Aquino has approved a new target of 44 million domestic trips by 2016.
To address the needs of local and foreign tourists, Jimenez estimated a gap of over 20,000 rooms by 2016.
“That’s how many rooms we have to build…We are okay up to 2014 because we are looking at about 7,000 new rooms coming on-stream between now and 2014,” he said.
The government has identified the tourism sector as one of the growth drivers of the economy that creates business opportunities and generates jobs.
Tourism contributed around seven percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012.
“That should grow significantly to around 11% of GDP and about 18% of total employment by 2016,” said the tourism chief. — Danielle Venz, PHILEXPORT News and Features