Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tara na?

A good conversation with Ivan Henares on Twitter got me around to reviewing the Tourism Act of 2009.  In particular, the sections that pertain to funding.

Mr. Henares brought up the issue that there may not be enough funds for a re-branding and promotions campaign.

I believe that a good promotion concept that is well executed can have a substantial impact on our country's tourism.  Especially if this comes after having rationalized and organized tourism shareholders as well as built up the necessary tourism infrastructure.

Carlos Celdran says that branding and building up the tourism product can happen simultaneously.  Perhaps, it can.

But I've seen restaurants open even before most of the restaurant was actually finished and most of the staff had not been trained properly.  I can tell you, it doesn't make for a great experience.

And EXPERIENCE is what we are selling. Not a flight. Not a hotel room. Not a bunch of handicrafts.

Anyway, I'll gloss over the fact that going around the country still has its inconveniences and tourist services can be inconsistent in terms of quality.  I'll gloss over a lot of other facts that tend to portray our country in a bad light  to the foreign tourists that are already here.

I'll gloss over it, pretend that we actually have a good product to sell, and that our only problem is sourcing funds for a promotion campaign.

Oddly enough, inspite of Pnoy's awesome clout with Congress, Mr. Henares says Sec. Lim suggests that the Tourism Act of 2009 doesn't have the funds it ought to have.

Looking at some of the provisions of the Tourism Act of 2009, it specifies where the funds will come from:

SEC. 16. Office of Tourism Resource Generation. - In line with the objective of ensuring a sustainable funding mechanism for the implementation of tourism policies, plans, programs, projects and activities, the Office of Tourism Resource Generation shall be tasked with the collection of necessary fees and charges which shall be used by the Department in the promotion and marketing efforts of the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and the development of infrastructure facilities, utilities and services of the TIEZA. The proceeds of such collection shall accrue directly and automatically to the Department. The guidelines for the collection and disbursement of these proceeds shall be defined in the implementing rules and regulations of this Act.

There is hereby created a special fund, to be disbursed and administered by the Department, called the Tourism Development Fund, which shall be used for the development, promotion and marketing of tourism and other projects of the Department that will boost tourism in the country. The Fund shall be sourced from the fees and charges which will be collected by the Department. A special account shall be established for this Fund in the National Treasury. Disbursements made from the Fund shall be subject to the usual accounting and budgeting rules and regulations. 
SEC. 34. Tourism Infrastructure Program. - The Department, in accordance with the National Tourism Development Plan and local government initiatives, shall coordinate with the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation and Communications in the establishment of a tourism infrastructure program in the respective work programs of said agencies, identifying therein vital access roads, airports, seaports and other infrastructure requirement in identified tourism areas. The said agencies and the DBM shall accord priority status to the funding of this tourism infrastructure program. 
SEC. 54. Tourism Promotions Trust. - Within one hundred and twenty (120) days from the effectivity of this Act, an audit shall be conducted by the Commission on Audit to determine the true value of the assets and liabilities of the PTA. After such audit, the TIEZA and the Department, in coordination with the Privatization Council, shall determine which assets shall be put up for sale or lease; Provided, That concerned LGUs interested to manage and operate said assets shall have the right of first refusal. The TIEZA and the Department shall take into consideration the importance of maintaining and preserving the PTA assets which may already be considered cultural treasures and heritage sites, such as  the Banaue Hotel and similar assets, which shall not be sold or in any way disposed of and shall be placed under the ownership of the TIEZA for their continued maintenance.  
The Tourism Promotions Trust shall hereby be established from the proceeds of the sale or lease of the assets of the PTA. The Trust shall be managed by a governmentowned bank or financial institution selected by the Tourism Board. Said bank or institution shall report the status and profitability of the trust on a quarterly basis to the Tourism Board, the Secretary and the Joint Congressional Tourism Oversight Committee created under this Act. 
SEC. 55. Tourism Promotions Fund. - The proceeds of the following shall be placed in a special Tourism Promotions Fund to finance the activities of the TPB:  
a. The investment earnings from the Tourism Promotions Trust;  
b. An appropriation from the National Government of not less than Five Hundred Million Pesos (PHP 500,000,000) annually for at least five (5) years from the time of its constitution 
c. Seventy percent (70%) of the fifty percent (50%) net income of the DFPC accruing to the Department, in lieu of its statutory remittance to the National Government under Republic Act No. 7656, otherwise known as the Dividends Law of 1994;  
d. At least twenty-five percent (25%) of the fifty percent (50%) National Government share remitted by the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to the National Treasury pursuant to Republic Act No. 7656; and  
e. At least twenty-five (25%) of the National Government share remitted by the international airports and seaports to the National Treasury pursuant to Republic Act No. 7656.  
In no case shall promotions and marketing activities receive less than fifty percent (50%) of the annual utilization of the Fund. Not more than ten percent (10%) of the Fund shall be used for all other administrative and operating expenses of the TPB. The unallocated portion of the Fund shall be earmarked by the TPB as follows:  
a. For use by the TIEZA in the development of TEZs;  
b. For the Department, to enhance its programs for development planning, heritage preservation, and infrastructure development, and manpower training including, but not limited to, scholarships for trainings abroad, among others; or  
c. For such other purposes as may contribute to the development of the tourism industry. Portions of the net income of government corporations and other enterprises provided under this section due the TPB shall be remitted directly thereto on a quarterly basis. 

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