Press Release
May 25, 2008


"The high prices of food, fuel, and electricity are realities that are here to stay. Talk of subsidies, cutting taxes, and threatening Meralco into lowering the price of electricity sound good. But sadly, it may be nothing more than a distraction while we pay our bills. What we really must focus on is the creation of a better means for millions of our countrymen to earn more, and boosting our country's tourism industry presents us with this opportunity."

Senator Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tourism, declared that Senate Bill No. 2213, also known as the "Tourism Act of 2008", will strengthen the Philippine tourism industry as an effective instrument for economic development.

"Imbis na nagmamakaawa lang tayo na bababaan ang presyo ng mga bilihin at bayarin, dapat maghanap tayo ng paraan para mapalakas ang hanapbuhay ng mga mamamayan natin at makikita natin ito sa turismo, sa tulong ng Tourism Act. Kahit anong batikos ang gawin natin sa Meralco at sa mga oil companies, malamang pa rin na hindi nila ibaba ang presyo ng serbisyo o produkto nila -- ang pinaka-importante sa mga kumpanyang ito ay ang proteksyunan ang tubo ng kanilang mga kumpanya." said Gordon.

Gordon also believed that "a strong and organized tourism industry is the answer to our woes. Not only will we reacquaint ourselves with our own history, culture and traditions, we will also entice the appreciation of the international community for our country. When these happen, and with a well-defined system in place after the faithful implementation of the Tourism Act of 2008, both domestic and foreign tourist arrivals will increase tremendously."

Of the 898 million tourists worldwide in 2007, the Asia-Pacific region received 185 million. Of these 185 million, the Philippines only received 3,091,993 tourist arrivals.

"Tourism is the largest industry in the world, with 898 million tourists a year, collectively spending hundreds of billions of dollars. It is the key to lifting our people out of their poverty, giving them jobs and opportunities and allowing them to live in pride and dignity," said Gordon.

He lamented that the Philippines has lagged behind its neighbors in the tourism industry. He noted that in 2007, Malaysia had visitors in excess of 18 million, while Thailand and Singapore both had more than 10 million. Even Vietnam, a country that had been ravaged by war, surpassed the four million mark in tourism arrivals, while the Philippines is stuck at barely more than three million.

With the Tourism Act of 2008, Gordon said, the country can be assured of better promotion activities, increased infrastructure development and more effective regulatory measures, all of which work toward increasing tourism receipts and providing more job opportunity for our people.

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