By Leonel Abasola

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday urged government agencies to support the Department of Tourism (DOT), even as he asked the public to refrain from further damaging the country’s image as a rising global tourist destination.

In a statement, Zubiri said that following DOT’s missteps and its actions to correct it, “we all should come together in support of the country and of our tourist destinations, which could be considered at par with other world-class attractions.”

“I reiterate my call to all relevant agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Transportation, and the Health department to work closely with the DOT to improve our tourism infrastructures so that we can bring in to the country the much-needed billion tourism dollars,” he said.

He stressed that the success of the “Love the Philippines” campaign will also live and die with the cooperation and collaboration of all government stakeholders so that our public transport, our connectivity, our health protocols, our logistics, and our people will be ready to deliver and accept the love our tourism deserves.

The Senate President said this is the meat of the daunting task that the DOT needs to focus on as it buckles down to work to address their shortcomings.

“We need to support the DOT and our tourism stakeholders even more this time, as we need to infuse into our country the needed billions of dollars brought in by tourists from all over the world. And we should refrain from damaging further our image as a rising global tourist destination,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri said he expects DOT Secretary Christina Frasco to take the incident very seriously, and hold accountable “those who have wronged the Filipino people and the tourist spots that were replaced with alien places.”

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also called on the DOT to hold accountable those responsible for the controversial tourism campaign video.

“It is crucial that the ad agency responsible for this lapse in judgement be held accountable as using fake videos and photos of the Philippines not only deceives the public, but also undermines the integrity of our tourism industry.” he said in a separate statement.

He also encouraged all stakeholders in the tourism sector to join hands in ensuring that the country’s tourism industry thrives.

Meanwhile, Senator Robin Padilla stressed that the essence of the DOT’s slogan “Love the Philippines” – which is a message of love from the Philippines and the Filipino people to the world – should not be lost on the public.

Hangad ko po na kasabay ng ating pag-usad mula sa masukal na usaping ito ang pagkakaisa ng lahat sa ilalim ng iisang bandera: ang pagsulong ng turismo ng Pilipinas bilang mamamayang Pilipinong pinagbubuklod ng pag-ibig sa bayan (I hope that as we move on from this controversy, we will unite under one flag: to promote our country’s tourism as Filipinos who love their country),” he said in another statement.

Padilla added that as a member of the Senate’s Tourism Committee, he is also one with the Filipino people in wanting to see a resolution to the controversy that hounded the DOT’s tourism campaign video, as well as making sure those liable are punished. (PNA)