No Boracay? No problem, says CamSur solon

Camarines Sur Representative LRay Villafuerte is prodding the Department of Tourism (DOT) to launch an aggressive marketing campaign to sell the Philippines’ prime tourist spots, more so now that one of the country’s main attractions—Boracay Island—has been ordered closed by President Rodrigo Duterte for six months to save it from environmental degradation.

Villafuerte said that given the right tools, the DOT would not find it difficult to sustain the Philippines’ growing number of foreign tourist arrivals even with the closure of Boracay Island, given that even authoritative and respected online publications such as forbes.com have acknowledged the country as among Asia’s booming tourist locations.

This is due to the ongoing improvements in infrastructure as well as land,
air and sea connectivity, the solon said.

“The DOT can do wonders by aggressively pitching the country as an ecotourism haven and as an extreme sports destination, for one, to make up for Boracay’s shutdown,” Villafuerte said.

Boracay, which attracts about two million tourists every year, was ordered closed by President Duterte for a period of six months, starting April 26, to allow the island’s rehabilitation.

Prior to the closure, a March 28 article of forbes.com named the Philippines along with Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea as experiencing a “marked uptick” in tourist arrivals.

According to the article, the Philippines had a 10.96 percent growth in 2017 tourist numbers, equivalent to 6.6 million, with over 675,000 tourists coming from Europe. This was 7.3 percent higher compared to the previous year.
Villafuerte called for collective action among government agencies and other stakeholders to repackage the Philippines into Asia’s sports and eco-tourism haven.

As three-term governor from 2004 to 2013, Villafuerte had transformed
Camarines Sur into the Philippines’ top tourist destination by promoting the
Caramoan Islands as an adventure destination and the CamSur Watersports Complex as one of the world’s best wake parks. The complex has been the site of world-renown sports events, such as the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon, which has been held there for three consecutive years.

Villafuerte said the DOT, the local government units and the private sector should work together on new marketing strategies to sell the Philippines as Asia’s premier tourist destination by developing its potentials as an eco-tourism and adventure sports hub.

The DOT  can take advantage of the country’s  natural attractions and the Filipinos’ famed hospitality and relative fluency in English to market the Philippines as an ecotourism haven, Villafuerte said.

Kathy Kenny

EIC

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