Press Release
December 10, 2008

Congress bicam panel works double-time on tourism bill - Gordon

The Senate-House bicameral conference committee is now on its penultimate stage of ironing out conflicting provisions between the Senate and House versions of the Tourism Bill, Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon said today.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate tourism committee, said he hopes the bicameral panel can submit its reconciled report for ratification by both houses of Congress before their respective members take their Christmas break on Dec. 18.

"The bicameral committee is working double time to thresh out the conflicting versions of the tourism bill, and hopefully, we would be able to send it to the President for her signature into law before the end of the year," he said.

"In the face of global economic recession, we ought to feel the pressure because a lot of people are counting on the passage of this tourism bill. Our country needs investments and this measure will surely generate jobs," he added.

The next meeting of the Senate-House bicameral conference for the tourism bill is scheduled on Dec. 11.

The Senate version of the bill provides for more generous incentives for tourism enterprises while the Lower House version of the bill provides more conservative incentives.

He further explained that the Tourism Bill would completely retool the government's tourism bureaucracy and make the country's tourism industry compete on the same level as other Asian countries.

"One of the salient provisions of the tourism bill is that we can now uplift the regulatory capability of the Secretary of Tourism as well as uplift our marketing capability," he said.

"We can now have more resources to market our tourist destinations and upgrade and enhance our tourism assets. We can now have Tourism Enterprise Zones dedicated to establishing tourism enterprises with tax incentives," he added.

Gordon, a former tourism secretary, also believes that the country needs to have fundamental reforms in the tourism sector.

These reforms at the heart of the Tourism Act of 2008 are, namely: (1) to regulate and uplift the standard of tourism services, (2) to strengthen the promotional capability of our tourism industry, (3) to create infrastructure such as hotel development and beach resorts, (4) to encourage private sector participation, (5) and to facilitate faster cooperation among various agencies and institutions to ensure competitiveness and increase market share, and (6) to increase the people's purchasing power.

"With the faithful implementation of the Tourism Act of 2008, the country can have a better institution to regulate and promote tourism and install the necessary infrastructures to make our country truly world-class. We can have more jobs for our people, who will no longer have to find for their future in foreign shores, but right here in their native Philippines," he noted.

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