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.

Philippines can be RE leader in Southeast Asia

The Philippines is sitting on vast renewable energy potential of more than 250,000 megawatts of power that can save money, generate jobs and make electricity available and affordable to more Filipinos, Greenpeace said in a report yesterday.

The economy stands to benefit from massive renewable energy investments and does not need to rely on outdated and destructive fossil fuels, according to the report titled “Green Is Gold: How renewable energy can save us money and generate jobs”.

At a press conference in Quezon City, Greenpeace launched the report, in which the group sought to debunk notions that renewable energy technology was expensive and not economically viable.

“It will make the cost of electricity more economical, generate growth for the country while posing fewer risks to the environment and people, and contribute to energy independence,” said Von Hernandez, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace said the country’s RE potential was estimated at 261,000 megawatts, which “remains untapped, with investors now moving to other markets in the region, having been locked out by coal projects in the pipeline”.

Anna Abad, the group’s climate and energy campaigner, pushed for what she called an energy revolution by turning its back on coal and capitalising on RE technologies, such as geothermal and solar panel production.
“This report shows clearly how renewable energy is the win-win solution for sustained economic growth in the Philippines,” she said.
Abad said the Department of Energy should not miss out on the opportunity to realise the full potential of the five-year-old Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

Hernandez noted how the RE law had been hailed as a landmark law that was seen to usher in the new era of renewable energy in the country by generating billions of dollars in investment and creating new opportunities.

“However, after five years, implementation has yet to bear the fruits that were envisioned when the law was crafted. We have yet to see major implementation, which has been hobbled by foot-dragging, the inability of government agencies to enact corresponding rules and regulations, and willful sabotage,” he said.

Hernandez blamed what he described as the “conflicting policy direction being pursued by the DOE and by the Aquino administration”.

Compared to previous administrations, he said, it was only now that the government was supporting more than 20 proposals for coal-fired power plants, “which goes against the spirit and intention of the RE law”.

“It is unthinkable that we’re investing in our own suffering,” he said, pointing out the environmental costs of coal and other conventional fuels.

The Greenpeace report said RE technology was typically labour-intensive, “which means they spend more on hiring people, have a higher domestic content than conventional fossil fuel sectors, and often produce higher-end, better-paying, cleaner, healthier jobs”.

For example, it said, a 10-megawatt solar plant employs 1,000 people during the construction phase and another 100 people in permanent full-time jobs.

In terms of revenues, Greenpeace said geothermal energy, a “mature industry in the Philippines”, had saved the government more than $7 billion since 1977.
“Other RE technologies suggest more savings to the economy—or biomass: US$96.9 million per year; for hydro: $65.9 million per year; for solar: $8.5 million per year; and for wind: $29.5 million per year.

The report said the Philippines possessed the natural resources that could propel itself as an RE leader in Southeast Asia.

Copyright: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Philippines, Hailed as One of the World’s Best Destinations in 2013

MANILA, Philippines — Looks like all of our hidden beaches will no longer be oblivious to foreigners as Condé Nast Traveller, an American travel magazine, ranked Philippines as second among the top 10 destinations to watch out for in 2013.

On its magazine online site, author Laura Fowler believes that it is the undiscovered beaches and the incredible underwater life that makes the Philippines particularly popular among serious divers. She also mentioned some of the country’s finest destination sites such as Bicol, Siargao, Palawan and Amanpulo.

Among the ”Top 10 hot destinations that will be big news for travelers in 2013″, Brazil ranked 1st. The Netherlands’ city of Amsterdam was ranked 3rd; 4th is Africa; Galapagos Islands, 5th; Kashmir, 6th; Mayan Riviera, 7th; New Zealand, 8th; Panama, 9th; while Oman placed the 10th spot.

As the author put it,  ”Sorry, Maldives… We love you, but we’ve got a new flame.”

With the country’s unexplored beaches and vast underwater wildlife, looks like Philippines already has the edge among its tropical neighbors.

Typhoon Pablo, 2nd Deadliest Typhoon

There’s a total of 1,500 feared dead due to typhoon Pablo which considered as the second worst storm to lash the Philippines.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council head Ramos, at last count yesterday was in 1,067 that confirmed dead in the disaster while over 800 are still missing after nearly three weeks ago.

Ramos believes that Typhoon Pablo could surpass the number of killed people by typhoon Sendong December last year that reached 1,268.

If it happens, typhoon Pablo will be the second deadliest typhoon.

Recall that Typhoon Thelma killed 5,101 people in 1991.

Meanwhile, thousands of residents are still homeless after flash floods sweep.

The officials hope that there will be no major health problems to the affected residents.

Justin Bieber Mocks Manny Pacquiao With Offending Photos On Instagram

 

For some congressman, the offensive pictures of Manny Pacquiao when he fell down posted made by the Canadian singer and teen sensation Justin Bieber on the internet was an open profanity and mockery.

In two photographs uploaded by Bieber’s thru Instagram, Shows the fallen bodies of Philippine pride positioned vertically adjacent next to the late King of Pop Michael Jackson while doing the famous ‘leaning dance step’ that has a caption, “Pacquiao doing the lean with MJ…Classic moment” and the other is the knockout shot on the canvas which in turn adds Lion King Simba cartoon character that pushed to see the bottom of faced down Pacquiao with caption, “Dad wake up”.

In anger of Yacap party list Rep. Carol Jane Lopez, She imposed to ban Bieber in the Philippines and do not allow to re-invoke concert here and appeal to fellow citizen – particularly young people – to sabotage the songs and videos of the young international singer.

According to the lady solon, Bieber allegedly insulted not just Pacquiao on his derision but the entire Filipino so it is right to be declared “persona non-grata,” in the Philippines.

“Sobra naman ang ginawa niya. Ininsulto ang hero ng mga Filipino sa boxing,” Lopez’s statement admitting he didn’t like Bieber’s act towards the fellow Sarangani congressman.

“Dapat lang siyang i-ban dito sa Pilipinas at iboykot ang kanyang mga kanta. Hindi niya alam na mara­ming Filipino ang bumili ng kanyang album tapos ganyan ang gagawin sa isang Pinoy. Kahit hindi si Manny ang kanyang ininsulto, hindi pa rin ito katanggap-tanggap,” Said Lopez.

Lawmakers said that Bieber is taking it personally against the rival of the boxer he’s supporting, Floyd Mayweather Jr.., And Pacquiao.

Bieber had a concert in the Philippines recently and was mobbed by young Filipino so today it is said that he does not owe the fans that included Filipinos who put him in the state he is now.

Everyone knows that Bieber has many Filipino followers on his social media accounts so it is allegedly right to extend to him that fellow countryman of Pacquiao didn’t like what he did.

“Dapat niyang malaman na ang iniinsulto niya ay mahal ng mga Filipino,” According to Lopez.

 

 

Economy is Getting Better

To unexpected circumstances, the economy grew at 7.1 percent this Philippines third quarter, compared with 3.2 percent slack in 2011.

Reported by the National Statistics Coordination Board that economic growth is caused by the implemented ‘service sector’ like ‘robust performance’ of transport, storage and communication, financial intermediation, real estate, Renting and business activities and agriculture.

The palace of Malacañang is pleased to this news that beats economy on the other countries in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia which recorded a 6.2 percent said the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Malaysia with only 5.2 percent, Vietnam with 4.7 percent, with 3 percent Thailand and Singapore with 0.3 percent.

“We were very pleased with the news that was relayed to us by NEDA director general Arsi (Arsenio) Balisacan and certainly it was beyond our expectations. We knew that it was going to be a good number,” said the presidential spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda.

Lacierda also assured of not only the entrepreneurs benefit from the growth of our GDP but also felt by ordinary people across the country.

In this regard, said the progressive legislators in the Lower House of Congress to hint that the Aquino government to the Filipino people of the country’s economic growth by providing employment and reducing poverty in the country.

Tourism Continues To Lift

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is hoping to exceed its forecast 4.5 million tourists this year due to continued increased of number of tourists entering the country that reached 15% gross over the past few months.

It is proudly said by DOT Sec. Ramon Jimenez in the debut held in duty free shop stores at NAIA Terminal 1 yesterday.

Additionally, Korea is still the largest source of tourists who are coming to the Philippines and followed it by the United States and Japan, “But the Asean is the largest already, they are our neighbors.”

Stop Helping Philippines Marked China Paper To Beijing

The Global Times, in an editorial on July 19, said “there is no need to dole out generous aid” to the Philippines. “The cooperative project should be an opportunity for China to extend its advantage,” the paper, published by the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, said.

One of China’s top newspapers has urged Beijing to stop giving development aid to the Philippines, which it says “does not deserve too much attention from China.”

“Cooperation with the Philippines can still continue only if it benefits China,” the paper said. “But countries as fickle as the Philippines cannot become our strategic partner in a short period of time.”

Citing a Philippine dam project funded with a $112-million loan from China and inaugurated recently by President Aquino, it said: “The water supply project contract was signed in 2010.”

“If it were negotiated today, given the current situation surrounding Huangyan Island [Panatag or Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine or South China Sea], the deal would likely not go through,” the paper said.

According to the Global Times, when President Benigno Aquino “attended the ceremony, where he expressed his gratitude to China [for funding a water project in Manila], the news sparked strong opposition back in China.”

The paper explained: “Some thought it was a free donation to Manila and questioned the logic behind it. The water supply project was built through the preferential buyer’s credit of the China Export-Import Bank. The Philippines borrowed from China to purchase construction products from a Chinese company, China International Water and Electric Corp. The $112 million is underwritten by the Philippine government.”

Suffer consequences

The Global Times wants China to punish the Philippines for daring to contest the ownership of Panatag Shoal. “Manila provoked the conflict and also suffered the consequences,” the paper said.

It claimed: “The Philippines grabbed a few islands in the South China Sea during the years when China’s naval power was weaker. It was a grim lesson for China. With its rising influence and time on its side, China can generally be sure of resolving the South China Sea issue at its own pace despite disruptions from the US.”

Earlier, the Global Times criticized the Philippines and Vietnam for their “attempt to grab islands and waters in the South China Sea, which don’t belong to them, by riding the back of the tiger,” an apparent reference to the United States.

In a report published on July 16, the paper said Manila and Hanoi “hope to get massive military assistance from the US, which the US can’t afford to provide.”

The report, titled “Clinton’s trip highlights weak points of US return to Asia,” noted that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “made a trip encircling China recently.”

“From Japan to Mongolia then to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Clinton mainly focused on three things: Backing Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines in disputes with China over maritime territorial sovereignty; balancing China’s economic influence in Asia by enhancing trade and economic ties with Southeast Asian countries, and promoting support for democracy and human rights as the core of US Asian strategy while attacking China’s development model,” the report said.

It added: “The Obama administration’s strategy covers political and military fields, as well as trade and economy. But the strategy is gradually losing its edge.”

Japan To Give 12 Boats to The Philippine Coast Guard

Department of Foreign Affairs said that The Philippines and Japan have agreed to further improve their joint cooperation on “shared regional strategic concerns,” including maritime security. This developed following Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario’s meetings with his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba, and Deputy Prime Minister Katsura Okada during the DFA head’s official visit to Tokyo last week.

In Philippine Daily Inquirer, Del Rosario said that aside from the United States, three other countries – Japan, South Korea and Australia – were helping the Philippines establish a minimum reliable defense posture to complement its diplomatic capacity in dealing with its territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China). He revealed that the Tokyo government would likely provide the Philippine Coast Guard with 12 patrol boats. “They’re considering 10 40-meter boats on official development aid and two larger ones as grants,” said Del Rosario.

The foreign office said “the two ministers engaged in comprehensive discussions reviewing key aspects of relations and affirmed their respective governments’ commitments to advancing the multifaceted bilateral relations on the two countries’ shared values and long history of cooperation.”

DFA added that “Talks centered on the enhancement of political dialogue, economic cooperation, official development assistance, and business-to-business and people-to-people ties, as well as on the furtherance of bilateral cooperation on shared regional strategic concerns, including maritime safety and disaster risk reduction”. However, the foreign office did not provide details about the two officials’ dialogue on maritime security-related matters.

The head of the embassy’s chancery, Minister Shinsuke Shimizu told this paper Tokyo would continue to help the Coast Guard deal with its maritime safety and law enforcement concerns. However, Shimizu clarified “it is of different nature from establishing the minimum credible defense capabilities” of the Philippines. “Nor is it aimed at addressing a specific regional situation,” said the diplomat. He was apparently referring to the Scarborough Shoal dispute between Manila and Beijing. He noted that “since 1990, Japan has been helping the Coast Guard in its capacity-building program.”

Investment-Grade Rating Is Seen Getting By The Philippines In 2 years

According to DBS Group, The Philippines could achieve investment-grade credit rating within a year or two if reforms that have so far yielded positive results are kept up. The financial services provider issued the statement following last week’s move by Standard and Poor’s to raise the Philippines’ international debt rating to one notch below investment grade, mainly due to the government’s stronger financial position. “Notably, this puts the Philippines in the same rating as Indonesia,” DBS said in a new research note. “This does not come as a surprise as we have been highlighting that the Philippines has a significantly stronger fiscal and debt profile compared to just a few years ago,” it added.

Last month, the Bureau of Treasury reported a budget deficit of P22.8 billion in the five months to May, which was just one-fifth of the P109.34 billion that the government intends to spend on top of national budget for the first semester.

DBS notes that, in comparison, the average five-month deficit in the past five years was P67.3 billion. The Singapore-based group said that “The government still ran a primary surplus [the budget profile without interest expenses] amounting to P108 billion as of May.”

DBS said that with a gross domestic product growth of 6.4 percent year on year recorded in the first quarter, and “even after accounting for a slowdown in the second semester, the government’s growth target of 5 percent to 6 percent appears to be realistic.”

he group’s own forecast for full-year GDP growth is currently nailed at 5.3 percent—an upgrade from its previous forecast of 4.2 percent. Further, DBS maintains its expectations for the Philippines to post a current account surplus of $6.2 billion in 2012, down from $7.1 billion in 2011. The current account refers to the balance of the inflow and outflow of goods, services, and other funds such as income, donations and debt payments. It is a main component of a country’s balance of payment, which is a record of all monetary transactions between itself and the rest of the world.

“Remittances growth, although slowing, have proven to be resilient, while services exports (especially through business process outsourcing) have been expanding strongly,” DBS said. They also added that “an investment-grade rating within the next one to two years is a definite possibility if the reform pace is maintained.”