Tourism can boost new business ventures

Deemed as a dream destination, the Philippines is truly blessed with generous attractions. With this advantage, tourism is a driver for the country’s economic growth.

The Philippines is gifted with over 7,600 islands to explore. As an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia, the true beauty of the Philippines is in its rich natural resources and vast coastlines, including the most mesmerizing beaches and astounding marine biodiversity.

“All of these islands are jewels that were gifted to us. But the key here is that we have to protect these assets. If they are destroyed, then we lose our tourists. That said, sustainability is the key for us to preserve these assets,” GoNegosyo founder and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Philippines chair Joey Concepcion said during the first Tourism Summit 2019 in the Philippines held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

The ASEAN-BAC Philippines and GoNegosyo in partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT) organized the Tourism Summit 2019 last May 2 highlighting the importance of the tourism industry. It was the biggest summit on tourism and entrepreneurship that seeks to develop a more integrated tourism industry and contribute to the sustainable socio-economic growth in the region.

Spearheaded by Joey Concepcion and DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, it was applauded by 10,000 delegates (online and onsite) from different cities and provinces. Valuable insights into how to promote sustainable island tourism were shared through the strategic investment programs for the five A’s of tourism: Arrivals, Access, Accommodation, Attractions, and Activities.

Jewel Changi Airport Photo by Lim Yaohui

Aside from agribusiness and digitalization, tourism serves as one of the three pillars to strengthen inclusivity in our economy. The Philippines’ tourism industry hit a record high of 7.1 million tourist arrivals in 2018, up by 7.65 percent from the recorded 6.62 million in 2017, according to DOT.

Seeing a huge potential to Philippine tourism, DOT increased its foreign tourist arrivals goal to 8.2 million for 2019. Though we still have a big gap to fill before reaching Thailand’s 38 million tourist visitors in 2018, if we continuously look for ways to enable and to sustain the growth and promote all the wonderful destinations to attract many adventure enthusiasts, the Philippines will surely progress.

In my recent travel, I saw how tourism can make a huge impact on the economy. Singapore has been actively promoting their ecotourism. Having limited natural resource and water, Singapore efficiently ensured the sustainability and conservation efforts of its available resources. Its newest “Jewel” is a mixed-use development with gardens, attractions, retail, dining, hotel, and other facilities to support Changi Airport’s operations.

The complex was brought to life from nothing into this awe-inspiring landscape that showcases the beauty of nature. Connecting three of the four terminals in the airport, Jewel is surrounded by tens of thousands of natural trees, plants and shrubs, and is now home of the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

“Architects often delineate outdoor vs. indoor space. Changi’s new airport encapsulates what is supposed to be an outdoor experience and harmonizes it indoor. This is a modern approach to a tropical environment like Singapore —making it a true garden city,” quipped Visionarch Inc. president and CEO architect Daniel Terence Yu during one of our conversations regarding the new attraction in the Lion City of Asia.

The Philippines is over 400 times the size of Singapore. If we realized our full potential, bigger tourist numbers are possible. In upholding our tourism campaign “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” preserving and enhancing our resources should always come hand-in-hand. Aside from the sights, our country also offers that unique Filipino interaction of warmth and hospitality, making every tourist’s visit a memorable one.

The Philippines’ rich culture and historical heritage, which includes festivals and traditions, are also one of the attractions of our country. Tourism can open up limitless possibilities for new business ventures. With the right amount of government attention and development, tourism will become an essential driver of inclusive economic growth and sustainability in our country.