Philippine Tourism Secy urges change in external perception

Published on : Thursday, December 28, 2017

Philippines TourismPhilippine Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo said negative global perception has been affecting tourism to the country’s tourism despite it being in top consideration for foreign visitors.

Teo, who was a tour operator before joining government, said that among the factors affecting the number of tourist arrivals is “the perception that the Philippines is a centre of natural calamities such as typhoons, flash floods and earthquakes.”

Teo added that the Marawi crisis, which officially ended in October as the government shifts to rebuilding the battle-scarred capital of Lanao del Sur, and threats to peace and order, especially in the southern Philippines is also among the problems the tourism sector faces.

The declaration of martial law through Proclamation No 216 — since extended to Dec. 31, 2018 — has also contributed to the negative perception from tourists.

President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies agree that martial law is needed in Mindanao because of continuing rebellions by the communist New People’s Army, Islamic extremist groups and local terrorist groups.

Teo urged the tourism stakeholders to help improve the global perception to help the country’s tourism. She said they should advocate making the Philippines a “safe haven” for tourists.

“We cannot blame those who are outside looking in if the international community perception is one with chaos and instability. It is our duty as stakeholders of this nation to figure out how we can correct this misconception,” Teo said.

“This is why crisis management, much like sustainability, is our shared responsibility,” she added.

Rafael Alunan III, a former Local Government secretary who has also headed the Tourism department, agreed with Teo, saying PESTE, — Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental issues — are adversely affecting Philippine tourism and are contributing to the global perception of the country.

“The perception also tends to view that as long that crisis is there, it’s not safe for tourists to be there,” Alunan said during the symposium.

Junie Del Mundo, chair and CEO of public relations group EON, also cited the Marawi crisis and the 2010 Manila hostage crisis as incidents that gained negative media mileage and affected the country’s tourism.


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