MANILA, Philippines - The tourism sector is expected to account for as much as 18% to 20% of the country's total employment by 2016.
At the Philippine Yearend Economic Briefing on Wednesday, February 13, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. added that this will allow the sector to increase its share to 11% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current level of 7%.
In the October 2012 Labor Force Survey, there were 37.67 million employed Filipinos. If this is the same number of employed Filipinos by 2016, an 18% to 20% share translates to about 6.8 million to 7.5 million workers the tourism industry will employ.
"The domestic market, for now, is what is holding everything up. Revenue from international arrivals by 2016 will already be within the vicinity of close to about $850 million (or) close to a billion by that time. The effect of that is of course, tourism will account for 10% or maybe 11% of GDP making it finally a very important pillar of (growth) in the Philippines," Jimenez said.
"The even more important figure here is that by 2016, it will account for a little over 18% of employment, or between 18% to 20% of employment in the country," he added.
44 million domestic tourists by 2016
The year 2012 marks the first time the Philippines saw its foreign tourist arrivals go beyond the 4-million mark. Despite hitting an all-time high, however, the total number of tourists missed the year's 4.6 million goal.
A total of 4,272,811 foreign tourists visited the Philippines in 2012, up 9.07%.
But Jimenez stressed at the yearend briefing that domestic tourist arrivals is driving the growth of the industry. To date, Jimenez said domestic tourism have exceeded the 2016 target of 35.5 million by around two million travelers.
This is expected to grow, prompting the government to increase its domestic tourist arrival target to 44 million by 2016.
Lacking 20,000 rooms
This growth trajectory would result in a shortage of hotel rooms by 2016. Jimenez said the country is on target to increase the number of rooms by 7,000 in 2014.
But if the steady increase would continue for both domestic and foreign tourists, the Philippines will be faced with a 20,000-room shortage by 2016.
"Creating the demand turned out to be the easy part of the job or as people refer to it today as the "fun" part of the job. The hard part is actually being ready to be worthy of that demand," Jimenez said.
Jimenez said one of the ways the government is addressing this problem is through a tourism infrastructure-focused fund that was set aside for the sector.
He said the DOT is working with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the construction of tourism-specific roads and infrastructure. But, he said more needs to be done, specially by Local Government Units (LGUs).
Jimenez said LGUs must increase support for tourism by "creating the capacity to realize that demand."
"The most important change is actually happening on the ground. The development finally of LGU support around tourism development plans will determine the success or the failure of Philippine tourism," he explained. - Rappler.com