Are efforts diluted over so many areas?
The funds for the P30-billion Tourism Development Program under the proposed P2.3-trillion national budget for 2014 targets 10 strategic tourism areas in the country, according to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
Dubbed “international tourism gateway clusters,” these are: Laoag, Ilocos Norte (including Pagudpud) and Vigan, Ilocos Sur (with 373,000 underemployed and 172,000 unemployed among the local population); Central Luzon, which covers Subic-Clark-Tarlac-Corregidor, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, the Zambales coast, Bataan coast and inland, and Aurora (505,00 underemployed/384,000 unemployed); Metro Manila and Calabarzon region—Metro Manila, Nasugbu-Looc-Ternate-Cavite Coast, Laguna de Bay, Batangas peninsula, Quezon coast and islands (894,000 underemployed/466,000 unemployed);
Bicol—Camarines and Catanduanes, AIbay-Sorsogon-Masbate (780,000 underemployed/148,000 unemployed); Palawan, which covers San Vicente-EI Nido-Taytay, Princesa, Southern Palawan Busuanga-Coron-Culion (282,000 underemployed/55,000 unemployed); Central Visayas—Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor and Bohol (605,000 underemployed/224,000 unemployed); Western Visayas—Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Guimaras, (659,00 underemployed/212,000 unemployed); Cagayan de Oro Coast and Hinterlands—Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental and Bukidnon (556,000 underemployed/95,000 unemployed); and the Davao gulf and coast—Davao City, Samal island, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental (335,000 underemployed/119,000 unemployed).
“For 2014-2015, [these] international gateway tourism clusters will continue to be the focal areas for public investment support because of the need to complete the international airports and access roads in these clusters,” said Abad in his National Budget Memorandum 118, dated April 25, 2013.
He added that this method is “especially useful since we have already identified 10 tourism zones. This way we maximize government resources and agencies don’t operate like separate, unrelated silos.”
Separately, in his memo, Abad said the first year of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) had been successfully implemented in 2012 with foreign visitors reaching 4.3 million, up 10.25 percent from 3.9 million in 2011. Tourism receipts also rose some 27 percent to $3.8 billion in 2012, from $3 billion the year before.
He said in 2012, visitors stayed an average of 9.6 nights, up from 8.04 nights in 2011, while each tourist spent an average $894 per person, compared to $739 the year before..