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PH tourism strengthens as PBBM accepts more PSAC recommendations

PSAC tourism recommendations
More quick wins for the tourism industry after President Bongbong Marcos, Jr. accepted the recommendations from the Private Sector Advisory Council to drive demand and growth in Philippine tourism.

Go to be succeeded by Gokongwei as Tourism Sector Lead

Since meeting last September 2022, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has implemented two of the quick-win initiatives originally proposed by the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) Tourism Sector. In their second meeting with the President, held on Thursday, January 26, the advisory council presented updates on the quick-win implementations, as well as additional strategic recommendations, both quick wins and short-term goals, to drive demand and growth in Philippine tourism.

This was Robinsons Land Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Frederick D. Go’s final PSAC meeting as Tourism Sector Lead, following his appointment as Presidential Adviser for Investment and Economic Affairs. Regarding his PSAC role, PA Frederick D. Go will be succeeded by JG Summit Holdings President and CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei.

“With pandemic-related travel restrictions lifted, we Filipinos are ready to showcase the Philippines as a world-class tourist destination. PSAC is in support of the administration’s tourism agenda, particularly in boosting infrastructure and systems that will support the many travelers looking to discover the unique beauty of our country,” Go said.

“It has been a privilege being part of such an esteemed group. There is no doubt that they will continue to provide well-thought-out advice and plans to our President, which will serve the needs of our economy and people. I look forward to the future discussions and interactions we will have in my new capacity,” he added.

Looking back at the progress in the few short months since the initial meeting, the two executed quick-win initiatives based on PSAC recommendations were: (1) the implementation of Holiday Economics, and (2) the replacement of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) military uniforms with inconspicuous clothing.

First, Holiday Economics means the moving of select holidays to the nearest Monday, thereby increasing the number of long weekends and promoting domestic tourism. On November 11, 2022, less than two months after the initial PSAC Tourism Sector meeting, Presidential Proclamation No. 90 was released declaring the regular holidays and special non-working holidays for the forthcoming year. In 2023, there will be 10 identified long weekends that Filipinos can enjoy and take advantage of, re-discovering the wonders of the country in this climate of post-lockdown “revenge travel.”

Second, to recall, PCG personnel in military uniform were deployed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to assist in carrying out mandated controls and restrictions. PSAC recommended replacing the uniforms with inconspicuous clothing to create a positive and welcoming atmosphere for travelers and visitors. Last November, the uniforms were replaced with regular attire, and, to date, there are no more PCG personnel deployed at NAIA.

Considering the success of the quick-win initiatives in jumpstarting the tourism industry, President Marcos accepted PSAC’s additional quick-win recommendations based on private sector experience and expertise. These focused on extending the Philippine e-Visa upon arrival (EVUA) program to Chinese and Indian nationals. Furthermore, to encourage and increase tourism revenue through local shopping, which is the second largest spend of tourists, PSAC recommended the implementation of the VAT Refund Scheme for Tourists (VRST). Currently, there are 69 countries that offer VRST, with the Philippines being the only major Asian country without such a scheme.

Both recommendations were accepted by the President, with government agencies already assigned to collaborate and study the most appropriate implementation plans.

The PSAC Tourism Sector also stressed the importance of the traveler experience, which would be improved through the integration of arrival and departure requirements in a single form, along with the automatic inclusion of travel tax in all airline tickets, and the removal of outdated advisories in aircraft and ports of entry.

Looking to establish foundations for a revitalized tourism industry beyond quick wins, PSAC consulted and collaborated with stakeholders to identify three short-term goals that would have far-reaching effects: the improvement of airport infrastructure and operations, the management of the national brand and image, and the promotion of tourism investments.

Along with Go, PSAC Lead Convenor and Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin Aboitiz works alongside the PSAC Tourism Sector members: LT Group Chief Operating Officer (COO) Lucio Tan III, Quorum Holdings Corporation Chairman Emeritus Roberto “Bobby” Claudio, Sr., Filinvest Development Corporation President and CEO Joji Gotianun Yap, and Hertz Philippines CEO Rene Limcaoco.

Along with President Marcos, in attendance from the government were the following: Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Frasco, DOT Undersecretary Shahlimar Tamano, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique Manalo, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista, DOTr Undersecretary and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Alternative Chairperson Roberto Lim, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan Uy, Department of Finance (DOF) Undersecretary Cielo Magno, DOF Assistant Secretary Juvy Danofrata, DOF Assistant Secretary Dakila Napao, Presidential Advisor on Creative Communications Paul Soriano, and Presidential Advisor on Creative Communications Consultant Antonio Lopez.

Also present were Gie Polanco, Ginggay Hontiveros, Chris Camba and Leslie Lim of the PSAC Secretariat and Communications teams.

About Private Sector Advisory Council

The Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) has been established strategically by President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr to create and strengthen innovative new synergies between the private and public sectors. PSAC is composed of business leaders and experts across six main sectoral groups — Agriculture, Digital Infrastructure, Jobs, Healthcare, Build-Build-Build, and Tourism. The Council will help the government deliver on its commitment to transform the Philippine economy by implementing robust infrastructure programs, creating more jobs and attracting more investors, digitizing processes, improving agricultural productivity through the recalibration of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), jumpstart Philippine Tourism and ensuring an equitable, sustainable, and inclusive business landscape for Filipinos. PSAC will continuously recommend modern policy development to the government and report regularly to the President to provide feedback and adjust recommendations as necessary based on what is happening on the ground. Follow PSAC on Twitter to get the latest news as it breaks: https://twitter.com/PSAC_PH.

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