Tourism a booming business

Tourism a booming business

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column-jose rojasNow that it’s summertime and most schools are out, there is an increasing interest in domestic tourism for vacations, company outings and other leisure activities.

The good news is that not only is Philippine tourism booming from the business from local tourists, but international tourists, as well, are contributing to sector growth.

Government and private business efforts over the past six years have combined to make tourism one of the most profitable and high-growth sectors, according to the latest
industry statistics.

From 2010 to 2015, international tourist arrivals grew by 8.77 percent, from the 7.76 percent for nine years, from 2001 to 2010. Likewise, revenues from international tourism reached P227.62 billion ($5 billion) in 2015, from P112.55 billion
in 2010.

As for tourist arrivals, for the first time in history, the number of total inbound tourists exceeded 5 million in 2015, with 5,360,682 visitors experiencing the famous Philippine hospitality. This figure represents growth of 10.91 percent, from the 2014 figure of 4,833,368.

However, we Filipinos can contribute much to boost the growth of this sector by putting Philippine destinations on our travel list.

Among the many noteworthy places one can visit in the Philippines is Bohol. It has magnificent resorts that boast of beautiful beaches and pools. The famous tarsiers are another draw, as is the food—try the malunggay and sili ice cream at the Bohol Bee Farm, as well as
its organic honey.

And don’t miss the experience of dining onboard the “floating restaurants” plying the Loboc River—the two-hour cruise takes you down green waters amid overhanging mangroves from which young boys swing and jump into the water, as you enjoy a delicious feast of native dishes while being entertained by musicians and singers.

Romblon is an undiscovered paradise. Its beaches are unspoiled and not yet crowded; in fact, some entrepreneurs with businesses on nearby Boracay island come home regularly to Bohol for the same lovely beaches, but with peace and quiet. Its handcrafted marble items are a must-have.

The Philippines has other attractions, apart from beaches and resorts. For cultural and historical heritage sites, visit the provinces of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. They have excellent museums; in fact, part of the town proper itself is like a bit of Spanish colonial Philippines preserved, with architecture conforming to certain standards set by the local government along
those lines.

The cuisine of the Ilocos is another draw; food trippers are sure to enjoy a visit there. Do try the famous longganisa and empanada, which has variants from Laoag to Vigan. Somewhere in Laoag is a restaurant that serves excellent sampaloc juice and an interesting dragon-fruit ice cream; another dining place serves the
unusual but tasty pinakbet pizza.

These are, by no means, the only noteworthy spots in the country. There is something for everyone at nearly all price points everywhere in the Philippines, providing a range of choices to suit all budgets.

If we are to help the local tourism industry further expand, and in so doing help our kababayan working in this sector, let us remember that we are still our own best customers, and making the choice to spend our vacations somewhere in our beautiful country will contribute to local and national
economic growth.

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Atty. Rojas is vice chairman and general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.