Monday, November 22, 2010

Tourism Congress answers President Aquino's call for bright ideas

Here is an official announcement from the Tourism Congress, duly organized under the Tourism Act of 2009.

Private Sector Tourism hails PNoy junking of new DOT logo; Pledges Support to Call for “bright ideas”

Seventy five of the biggest national and regional tourism associations will gather on November 26, 2010 at the Traders Hotel in Pasay City to answer the call of President Noynoy Aquino for a substantive discussion to help generate “ bright ideas” on the controversial branding issue. It will also further concretize a 16-point Tourism Agenda that had earlier been submitted to the President by the private sector on July 15, 2010 through Secretary of Tourism Alberto A. Lim.

Reports indicate that Lim has not acted nor given any feedback to the proposed Tourism Agenda. Neither has he consulted at all with the Tourism Congress, an entity created by the Tourism Act of 2009 to act as the private sector consultative body to assist the government in the development of tourism policies and programs.

The Tourism Congress has hailed the quick and decisive action of President Benigno Aquino, who announced the junking of the new DOT logo. Tourism Congress President Alma Jimenez said that this proves that, in marked contrast to Secretary Lim, President Aquino listens to the voices of the stakeholders and gives concrete proof of his commitment to help boost tourism which he has identified as a critical sector for the creation of jobs and attraction of investments.

The Tourism Congress will create a Special Action Committee from among the captains of the industry and other subject experts on tourism marketing and promotions. The Committee will undertake an in-depth discussion on branding and recommendations on how to effectively market the country and attain, if not exceed, the target arrivals in the country.

“Our associations have more than 3,000 tourism enterprises among them. That is a lot of market intelligence that we can gather, not only from what they hear on the ground but from their collective experience in servicing their clients”, Jimenez said. The general assembly of the Tourism Congress on November 26, 2010 will be the country’s biggest gathering of industry stakeholders to discuss policy issues affecting the tourism industry. The body hopes the President can find time in his busy schedule attend this assembly.

“We cannot be at a standstill. We have waited long enough for plans to be articulated. We feel that if that will not be forthcoming anytime soon, we have to take the initiative and move the industry forward”, she added.

Philippine tourism was once again in the news because of the furor and outcry that the DOT’s recently-launched brand “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” created. This “new brand” has been bitterly criticized by tourism industry leaders, lawmakers and the general public. On the issue of re-branding, the Tourism Congress clarified that it was not the product of consultation with the stakeholders. Private tourism sectors have been at a loss to understand its rationale, given that no plans or programs have been discussed by the DOT leadership with the private sector that will at least illustrate the need to re-brand.

“The huge potential of a robust tourism program is not lost on the president”, Jimenez said, adding that the Tourism Congress membership includes the sectors of accommodation, travel and tours, land, sea and air transport services, meetings and incentive travels, tourism estates and other groups like health and wellness, tourism associations, tour guides, convention bureaus and the like.

“The expertise, the mechanisms, and the commitment of the private sector have always been there for the taking”, Jimenez said. “We are at a loss on why this has never been tapped by the current DOT leadership.” There is widespread perception among the private sector that Secretary Lim is unwilling to work with the Tourism Congress despite the clear mandate by the Tourism Act of 2009.

Jimenez recalled that the Tourism Congress submitted the Tourism Industry Paper for the new administration more than four months ago, but laments the fact that up to now, the body never got any response or action from the DOT leadership on the agenda it proposed. Specifically, they submitted a 16-point agenda for the first 100 days and enumerated several more for the period thereafter. The paper outlined recommendations for the improvement of infrastructure, fostering Philippine tourism competitiveness and boosting domestic tourism.

She also said that the Tourism Congress has proposed the convening of the Tourism Coordinating Council as a concrete step to manage the post-hostage taking aftermath but again, there is no word at all if this was even considered by DOT.

“We only want to help. This is our industry. These are our businesses and this is for the country. We must focus on the tourism agenda and set aside petty differences that impede its progress. Diversity of opinion can be irksome for the leadership but it is a necessary ingredient to a successful partnership between the public and private sectors towards the implementation of policies and programs”, Jimenez said. “Such consultation, if it took place, would have prevented the brouhaha called ‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda’.”


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