By Ma. Teresa Montemayor
MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) aims to attract 5 million foreign visitors this year.
In a television interview on Thursday, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco noted that about 2.6 million tourists visited the country last year.
“As far as 2023 is concerned, the target is to double that number to around a minimum of 4.8 million tourists,” she said.
The country’s target for international arrivals was 1.7 million in 2022.
“We far exceeded this target by almost a million arrivals, especially considering that we’ve only reopened our borders in February of 2022,” Frasco said.
The national government has implemented the ‘eTravel’ system to help the DOT achieve its goal of enticing more tourists in 2023. It is a one-stop electronic travel declaration system that replaced the One Health Pass.
The DOT and the Department of Transportation are also working on the improvement of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, the Cebu City Pier 1, and the Davao International Airport.
The DOT also launched projects aimed at boosting the country’s tourism and ensuring the country is ready to receive global tourists. These include “Philippine Experience” and “Bisita Be My Guest.”
Asked about the measure seeking to amend the holiday economics law, Frasco said they create opportunities for families to spend time together and explore other parts of the country.
“Definitely, increasing the number of long weekends helps domestic tourism. Our President, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr passed a proclamation recently to increase long weekends to nine and it also stoked a lot of interest and excitement among fellow Filipinos in terms of booking their trips for 2023,” she added.
Under the measure, holidays that fall on a weekend would be moved to the nearest Monday.
In 2007, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act 9492, which moved regular and special holidays to the nearest Monday to boost domestic tourism.
However, the late former president Benigno Aquino III ended this practice under Proclamation 84 signed in 2010. (PNA)