Philippines, A “Rising Star” in Tourism Sector

The World Economic Forum reported on Thursday that the Philippines now one of the world’s “rising stars” and the most improved Asian nation in terms of travel and tourism.
The Philippines “is the most improved country in the region,” WEF said in its “Travel and Competitiveness” report, noting the country’s “comparative strengths” in natural resources, price competitiveness, and a “very strong” prioritization of the sector.
In the WEF ranking of 140 countries, the Philippines placed 82, up from 94 in the WEF 2011 list that  covered 139 countries. “Government spending on the sector as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) is now first in the world, and tourism marketing and branding campaigns are seen to be increasingly effective,” the WEF report read, referring to the Aquino administration’s tourism initiatives and branding—“It’s more fun in the Philippines”—campaign. “In addition, the country has been ensuring that several aspects of its policy rules and regulations regime are conducive to the development of the… sector,” it added.
WEF listed better protection of property rights, more openness toward foreign investments, and few visa requirements for foreign visitors as areas where the Philippines fared well in terms of policy.
In a statement on the report’s release, WEF called the Philippines along with Panama—whose ranking jumped to 37 from 52—as the world’s “rising stars” due to “ policy improvements supporting the [travel and tourism] industry.”
The report noted the Philippines should improve on other areas to further raise its ranking.
“However, other areas—such as the difficulty of starting a business in the country, in both cost and length of the process—remain a challenge,” the report  read.
“Moreover, safety and security concerns; inadequate health and hygiene; and underdeveloped ground transport, tourism, and ICT (information and communications technology) infrastructure are all holding back the potential of the economy’s competitiveness,” it added.
Last month, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said his department is targeting a bigger contribution of  tourism to the GDP and partnering with other agencies in improving travel infrastructure and policies.
The government wants to attract 10 million foreign tourists in the country. Last year, there were 4.3 million foreigners who traveled to the Philippines.
The WEF report, meanwhile, noted that Switzerland remained as the world’s most competitive travel and tourism destination in 2013.

Germany maintained its second best ranking, while Austria inched up to the third spot from fourth place.

Conceived in 1971 by European business leaders, WEF is an independent international organization that aims to engage business, political, academic and governments to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 assessed 140 economies based on the extent of  factors and policies in place to develop and make the sector more attractive.

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