Press Release
October 22, 2008

Gordon asks House to fast-track passage of tourism bill

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today urged the House leadership to fast-track the passage of a bill that would give a needed boost to domestic tourism to ward off possible adverse effect the global crisis may have on the country's economy.

Gordon made the call as some 200 delegates from around 100 countries gather for the Sixth International Tourism Forum for Parliamentarians and Local Authorities at the Shangri-la Mactan Island Resort and Spa in Cebu.

"The world is seeing the importance of tourism in coping with the challenges brought by the current global financial crisis, which is why we must act now to reinvigorate domestic tourism," he said.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate tourism committee, called on his colleagues in the Lower House to immediately pass a counterpart bill of the Senate's Tourism Act of 2008 (Senate Bill 2213), which was already passed on third reading last June 11.

SB 2213 has three counterpart bills in the House of Representatives, namely, House Bill (HB) 952 by Speaker Prospero Nograles, HB 4 by Rep. Edgar Chatto, and HB 173 by Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, which are all pending before the House tourism committee chaired by Chatto.

"I urge my colleagues in the House, especially my counterpart chairman in the tourism committee, to immediately act upon these bills and ensure its passage to strengthen the country' tourism industry," Gordon said.

"The government should boost domestic tourism by providing needed infrastructures and right policy that would reinvigorate local productivity. An increased productivity in domestic tourism means more jobs created for the people and more revenues generated to the government," he added.

Gordon, also a former tourism secretary, said the country should reinvigorate domestic tourism in order to lure local tourists from traveling within the country. One way is for local government units to learn how to be more self-reliant in promoting their respective localities' rich history and culture, he added.

With international travels seen to be minimized because of the global financial crisis, Gordon said this should prompt the local tourism and hospitality industries to be bullish with their promotions of domestic tourism.

The Senate Tourism Act seeks to declare a national policy for tourism as an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development. It also aims to reorganize the tourism department and its attached agencies to effectively and efficiently implement that policy.

Gordon said the bill would allow the establishment of "tourism enterprise zones" in the country aimed at enticing foreign investors and tourists to visit places rich with history and culture.

These "tourism zones", which will be set up in strategic areas such as Cebu, Davao, Bohol, Laguna, Cavite, Boracay, Palawan and Iloilo, 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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