Press Release
December 23, 2013


Saying that super typhoon Yolanda impacted heavily on the country's tourism industry, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel lll today said that tour and hotel operators should adopt an integrated disaster risk reduction management system to always be prepared at all times.

In a speech at the 7th Department of Tourism and Hotel Industry management convention in Manila, Pimentel stressed the need to build a culture of preparedness and resiliency in the hospitality industry in order to cope up with the onslaught of stronger and deadlier typhoons.

He said that the tourism industry became a side victim to the tragedies, citing reports that the country will most likely miss its target of five million tourist arrivals this year because many travellers were dissuaded from coming here in the wake of the disasters.

Some 30 to 40 percent hotel and tour bookings were cancelled since Yolanda hit the country, but Pimentel, citing an old Chinese proverb, said that "the other side of calamity is opportunity." "The disasters I have mentioned also gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our love for one another, and our resilience as a people, traits that have not escaped the administration of other people," Pimentel told the crowd of university students from Caloocan City. He said that he had listened to the debates on the recent tragedies, some blaming the national government and others the local officials. But he said that the finger-pointing fails to appreciate the fact that preparing for and responding to calamities is a collective obligation of the local and national governments, and the private sector.

Pimentel said that major promoters of the tourism in the country should take to heart the painful lessons that those disasters have taught us.

While there is a law that already prescribes the ways by which people may ward off the dire consequences of calamities, Pimentel said it did quite envision that a calamity like Yolanda would hit the country with such force that it wasted whole barangays, towns and cities.

He warned that Yolanda types of disasters or worse will visit the country again sooner or later, asking the people to be prepared for the worst.

To be alert to the imminent perils, Pimentel said that the people must be made aware of what they need to do or not to do, to minimize, if not totally avoid, the evil effects of national disasters.

"Ignorance, they say, is a source of fear. It is a fertile ground for panic. Disaster plus a panicking people is the perfect recipe for a bigger, a greater disaster," he said.

Pimentel cited the World Disaster report of 2012 which ranked the Philippines as the third most disaster-prone country in the world while another study tagged the country as the most vulnerable to disasters.

While there is still need to craft new legislation to meet future calamity threats, he said that there are basic principles which can already be used for the guidance of the hotel and tourism industry.

First, he said, the people must be prepared with warning systems in place, disaster response networks organized, communications equipment on standby and evacuation centers established. "Those who fail to prepare for contingencies are preparing to fail. In times of disasters, failure to prepare could result not only in massive destruction of property, but in the incalculable loss of lives," he said.

Next, the people must take proper action before disaster strikes, and during and after calamities, he pointed out.

"Reducing the evil effects of calamities is our collective responsibility," said Pimentel as he challenged the hotel industry operators to get involved, if not, take the lead in the realization of the suggested safety measures.

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