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DOT is one of the top three government organizations highest approval rating.

Christina Garcia Frasco, secretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT), is pleased with the findings of the Publicus Asia study, which ranked the tourism organization among the top three national governmental entities in terms of public approval.

The study, which was carried out between November 25 and November 30 of this year, placed the DOT eighth in terms of public trust.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Frasco stated, “We are appreciative of the Filipino people’s favorable response and support for the work we have done in the past six months to usher in the revival of the tourism industry.”

“Led by the vision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for tourism to be a strong engine of socio-economic growth, we are optimistic that 2023 will usher in more record-breaking numbers, translating to more livelihood and employment opportunities for our fellow Filipinos, just as we have greatly exceeded our targets this year. We appreciate the hard-working men and women from both the public and private sectors who operate in the Philippine tourism industry and with whom we continue to interact and collaborate, she said.

Goals for 2023

Frasco stated that the DOT is aiming for 4.8 million foreign visitors as a baseline for 2023 during the year-end media briefing conducted on Monday at the Sheraton Hotel.

She stated that the company is fully optimistic about its 2023 estimates because the industry targets have been reevaluated as a result of exceeding the targets before the year ended.

The DOT initially forecasted 1.7 million tourist arrivals this year, but as of Dec. 19, the actual number of visitors reached 2.46 million.

When the Philippines registered 8.3 million visits in 2019, Frasco predicted that the department would end the year on a solid trend with 2.5 million tourist arrivals, which would be close to 30% of the industry’s pre-pandemic arrivals data.

The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, rising gasoline prices, inflation, and the ongoing lockdowns in China—which for a long time has been the Philippines’ largest source of tourists—are all taken into account in the revised estimates, according to the official.

According to Frasco, “We approach it with optimism in that our objective is to outperform our conservative estimates, just like we were able to do this year.”

With the enhanced policies implemented by the Marcos administration, she continued, “we feel that we would be able to surpass our pre-pandemic numbers considerably faster than the 2025 year that was stated to us when we started office.”

Top priorities for 2023

Fortifying its collaboration with other national government agencies and local government units (LGUs) in developing the country’s tourism portfolio and exemplifying the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence (FBSE) by training 100,000 tourism workers, a record set by far for the industry, is one of the top priorities of the DOT for the coming year, according to Frasco.

A formal collaboration between the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and the head of tourism was signed on Wednesday with the aim of enhancing the general visitor experience at established tourist destinations across the nation.

According to her, the cooperation would offer better internet connectivity and more digitalized travel services in at least 94 locations around the nation.

In reality, as the DOT had earlier pushed, the removal of the One Health Pass and redundant health inspections at the nation’s biggest and busiest gateways has turned out to be essential for exceeding the DOT’s tourism goals.

According to Frasco, the goal is to make travel hassle-free for all sorts of travelers, which is why the DOT, DICT, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Quarantine, and Department of Health launched the E-arrival pass, which combines all the criteria of five government agencies into one platform.

Removing any obstacles that may otherwise deter travelers from visiting the Philippines, it “makes travel as convenient as possible for any Filipino or visitor coming into the nation,” she said.

The department also unveiled two of its newest tourism initiatives: the Bisita, Be My Guest Program, which enables Filipinos to serve as ambassadors for tourism by offering incentives and exciting prizes to those who can successfully bring foreign visitors to the country, and the Philippine Travel Experience, which would give tourists a window to discover the nation’s tourism gems in over a hundred cities and more than a thousand municipalities.

The DOT has also laid the groundwork for the Philippines to become more competitive in the tourism sector throughout Asia and the world by opening Tourist Rest Areas (TRA), which are one-stop tourist destinations, in ten key locations across the nation. These locations include Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon, Samal Island in Davao del Norte, Baguio in the Cordilleras, Dauis in Bohol, Saud in Ilocos Norte, Carcar, Carmen,

Along with expanding our offerings in the arts and film tourism, we are also enhancing the nation’s current tourism offerings, such as dive and marine sports tourism, education, health, and cruise tourism, food and gastronomy tourism, culture and heritage tourism, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) tourism, and halal tourism, the official said.

In order to fully open up Mindanao as a tourism wonder and enhance the area’s halal program, Frasco said the DOT is prepared to engage in a formal agreement with the Department of National Defense (DND).

According to her, this would primarily give everyone in the area equitable access to development projects and encourage more tourists to travel to Mindanao’s undiscovered virgin island beaches and fascinating locations.

Careers for Filipinos

Frasco stated that in order to solve worker deficiencies in the tourist industry, the DOT and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) worked together to launch the Trabaho, Turismo Asenso! Program in the National Capital Region (NCR), Cebu, and Davao in September.

In total, 8,310 positions were available through the cooperation, which brought together 157 tourism-related businesses and 9,000 cumulative signups.

In order to provide 25,770 industry participants—including representatives from community-based tourism organizations (CBTOs), local tourism officers, and academics—with the knowledge and skills they need for the advocacy programs of the sector toward a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive Philippine tourism, training sessions in the field have also been conducted.

According to Frasco, the agency has set a goal for 2023 of training 100,000 tourism employees in the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence across the country’s 16 regions in order to realize the country’s ambition to become Asia’s hub for hospitality excellence.

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