Press Release
October 11, 2008

Boost domestic tourism to ward off impact of global crisis - Gordon

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to boost domestic tourism in order to ward off the possible adverse impact the global financial crisis may have on the country's economy.

Gordon said President Arroyo should take a cue from the lessons of the 1995 Asian financial crisis where domestic tourism had bailed out countries, like Thailand , from the negative effects to their economy.

"The President should boost domestic tourism by providing needed infrastructures and right policy, like the holiday economics, that would reinvigorate local productivity, such as agriculture and transportation," he said.

"An increased productivity in the domestic tourism means more jobs created among our people and more revenues generated not only to the local government but also, in the long run, to our national government," he added.

Among those strategic areas to boost domestic tourism include Cebu, Davao , Bohol, Laguna, Cavite , Boracay, Palawan and Iloilo where Gordon claimed are all rich not only with history and culture but also other attractions.

Gordon first sounded off his call as he spoke at the Global Indian Diaspora Conference in Suntec City Convention Center , Singapore . Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam was present when Gordon delivered his talk.

"In this age of globalization, an economic slowdown in wealthy countries, ike the US , means increased chances of a slowdown in the region and the risk of job losses," he said in his well-applauded speech.

"Hope should not be lost. Like in Subic , we were able to rise above the crisis. But we have to be prepared to face whatever challenges lie ahead of us. The opportunities are greater than our challenges," he added.

Gordon was referring to his successful feat as mayor of Olongapo City of turning Subic, a former US military base facility, into a world-class commercial zone after American troops abruptly left the country in 1991.

Subic is now one of the country's major economic zones and most popular destinations for local and foreign visitors. Attractions include several beaches, an underwater aquarium, jungle survival tours, racing and duty-free shops.

Gordon, a former tourism secretary, explained the best way to prepare for the possible adverse effects of the global financial crisis is to reinvigorate the domestic tourism in order to lure local tourists from traveling within the country.

"Due to the global financial crisis, international travels would obviously be minimized. This should prompt the local tourism and hospitality industries to be bullish with their promotions of domestic tourism," he said.

He also added that local government units should learn a lesson from the present global crisis by making themselves be more self-reliant in promoting their respective localities' rich history and culture.

As chairman of the Senate tourism committee, Gordon has steered clear the passage by the Senate of Senate Bill 2213 seeking for the establishments of "tourism enterprise zones" in strategic areas in the country aimed at enticing foreign investors and tourists to visit places rich with history and culture.

These "tourism zones" which will be located in larger destination areas would boost the Philippines as a premier tourism destination not only in the Asia - Pacific region but also to the rest of the world.

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