"..a bardy view!"

Cautious Optimism – Philippines’ Style……

The Philippines Department of Tourism has revealed that the top five foreign markets for tourism, according to rank for the first 6 months of 2011, were South Korea, USA, Japan, China and Australia. Nothing new there then!

In a drive to increase tourism under the slogan "undiscovered treasures and hidden gems", the DOT has a goal to increase international visitors to 6.5m by 2016 (they ditched "Wow! Philippines" some months ago – personally I thought it was pretty good, but then again it really didn't mean anything, except that "wow" in this case meant "world of wonder" – but how many knew that?) 

They have some way to go to catch up to Malaysia which had 23m visitors last year, and Singapore which had 15m. I notice they didn't cite Thailand's figures, which, as pleased as I am, they may now consider to be an unrealistic benchmark. Besides, Thailand is more of a British playground which attracts the slightly more affluent 18-30 booze brigade bored with Spain and Greece, so they are welcome to it.

Not that the Philippines is entirely free from those types – but they are more likely to be Australians ranting and raving on Boracay. 

So "access and connectivity" are the new buzzwords to push for rapid expansion with secondary international airports, together with "strategic access infrastructure development programs".

When infrastructure and development are used in the same paragraph as tourism it should sound alarm bells. Words which are generally on the same side of a coin, the reverse of which is written conservation, environment, and ecology.

Which leads me to their other statement "..following the direction of President Aquino, we’re encouraging combined public-private sector partnerships to safeguard and preserve natural and cultural sites and vulnerable groups, such as native people, animals, or treasures, for posterity.”

Well, that's a nugget for the magpies to pick up!

But why are "public-private sector partnerships" required for these safeguards? Why cannot a government make statutory decrees to protect its heritage? Whilst private investment should be encouraged to aid tourism, are they saying that it is crucial for preservation? The commercial sector exists for profit, it is not renown for philanthropy.

Whilst the Philippines' government should be applauded for its perceived new vigour in recognising its natural assets, this proposed marriage will invariable have one dominant partner – the one with the dosh!

Increased tourism will be essential for providing jobs for an ever growing population, but getting the balance right will take more than grand gestures and sound-bites. Cautious optimism may be the appropriate phrase to end this post.


July 17, 2011 - Posted by | Conservation, Culture, Education, Politics, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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