Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon has challenged this year's tourism graduates to conquer the world with Philippine tourism by turning it into the number one industry in the country despite the economic crisis challenging the world today.
Gordon, chief author of the proposed Tourism Act of 2009, issued the challenge as he addressed the 2009 graduating class of the University of the Philippines-Asian Institute of Tourism (UP-AIT), Diliman, Quezon City.
"Despite the financial crisis challenging the globe today, tourism remains to be the best industry in the world. In other countries, tourism has not gone down but it is not consistent in the Philippines ," he said.
"As you graduate today, I congratulate you for making a good choice. But I urge you all to go out there, create the best opportunities for yourselves and make tourism the number one industry in our country. Philippines will flourish if the tourism industry will be strengthened," he added.
The proposed Tourism Act of 2009 that Gordon authored will enable the country to compete with tourism giants such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. President Arroyo is scheduled to sign it into law on May 12.
During his stint as tourism secretary, there was a resurgence of Philippine tourism in 2003, when foreign tourist arrivals reached 2 million a year from a low of under 1 million in 2001, due to his painstaking efforts to promote Philippine tourism abroad such as the WOW Philippines.
Aside from bringing much-needed revenue for the national government, the influx of tourists also created jobs for the people and drew investors into the country.
In Subic alone, tourists visit the province on a regular basis and various multinational companies have set up branches inside the former US military facility. During the Holy Week this year alone, a total of 175,936 tourists arrived, raising the hotel occupancy rates in 20 hotels and housing operators to 99.5 percent.
Gordon, outgoing chairman of the Senate tourism committee, welcomed the UP-AIT's pledge to support the efforts that the government will undertake to improve the industry once the proposed act is passed into law.
"We need to improve our tourism industry in order to put our country in the map of global tourism. The proposed tourism act the President is set to sign into law early next month will develop the industry here in the Philippines. We welcome all the help and support that we can get when we implement this law," he said. (30)