DoT: PH to become Asia’s ‘must-experience’ destination

Faye Valencia
The Inbox

By Izah Morales, Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Even without a clear international branding for the Philippines, the Department of Tourism (DoT) has laid out its vision to be the "must-experience" destination in Asia.

"Wala pang bagong branding (There's no new branding). We're still working on that," said DOT secretary Alberto Lim in a press conference held Monday.

To achieve the vision, the DoT worked to improve market access and connectivity. "We'll be improving our airports with the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways," explained Lim.

In line with this goal are the construction of new airports such as the Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay and Panglao International Airport in Bohol, as well as the rehabilitation of the Puerto Princesa Airport and Cagayan de Oro Airport.

Lim said that the bidding for the said projects have started and are expected to be finished within the next three years.

"We're developing new international gateways to address the congested NAIA terminals," said Lim.

When asked about the negative feedback of tourists on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1, Lim told Yahoo! Southeast Asia that the Manila International Airport Authority is working on the plumbing problems of the terminal.

"We will also have improvements on the look and feel of Terminal 1. The interiors will be renovated to have a brighter atmosphere and modern look," said Lim.

He also disclosed that a new greeting area at the parking area of Terminal 1 would be constructed and finished by 2012. The project costs P 200 to 300 million, revealed Lim. "We want to present a good image when we welcome our tourists here in our country," he added.

Out of the seven tourism markets in the ASEAN region, the Philippines posted 3.5 million international visitors in 2010 and ranked sixth, lagging behind Vietnam and just ahead of Cambodia.

Nonetheless, the DoT said the international market continues to grow by 13.33% year on year with 1.3 million visitors recorded during the first quarter of the year (January to April 2011).

The DoT hopes for 3.75 million international tourist arrivals by the end of the year.