The Department of Tourism launched its latest campaign, The Tourism Decade, with the release of its latest AVP, a microsite with stories and mini-documentaries of individuals and the preview of the multi-media exhibition, Onwards: The Philippine Tourism in Intramuros. The launch event was held at Museo de Intramuros on September 27, 2019.

(L-R): Intramuros Administration Administrator Atty. Guiller B. Asido; DOT Assistant Secretary Howard A. Uyking; Principal Author of the Tourism Act of 2009 and 1st District of Bohol Representative Edgar M. Chatto; DOT Undersecretary Benito C. Bengzon, Jr.; and DOT Assistant Secretary Roberto P. Alabado III.

The Tourism Decade campaign commemorates the 10th anniversary of Republic Act 9593, better known as the Tourism Act of 2009. The campaign focuses on how the tourism industry provides inclusive growth and sustainable livelihood that benefits every Filipino, all made possible by R.A. 9593.

Video message by DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat

“The Tourism Decade celebration is an event not only to commemorate the law, but also to honor the travel industry’s contributions to the improvement of the lives of the Filipino people, and to bring attention to tourism’s functions as an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development,” said DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat in her keynote speech.

“If not for the implementation of Tourism Act, it would have been difficult for us to see the rising impact of the tourism industry on the country’s economic progress over the years, reaching a 12.7% contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2018. This continued growth has proven tourism’s direct linkages to various socio-economic development activities that have been helping improve our people’s quality of life,” Sec. Puyat emphasized.

Video message by Senator Richard J. Gordon, Principal Author of the Tourism Act of 2009

Since the enactment of Tourism Act in 2009, foreign arrivals have more than doubled, growing from 3 million in 2009 to 7.1 million individuals by the end of 2018. Domestic tourism expenditure also grew from PhP 508.8 billion in 2009 to PhP 3.2 trillion last year.

Sustainable tourism through comprehensive regulations

Signed into law on May 12, 2009, by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Tourism Act was authored by Senator Richard J. Gordon and 1st District of Bohol Representative Edgar M. Chatto.

Rep. Chatto mentioned that the creation of the law was aimed at espousing holistic and sustainable tourism that would guide all stakeholders in the industry.

“Tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world that can bring in more jobs, more livelihood and more economic opportunities for the younger generation,” Rep. Chatto noted.

Senator Gordon, meanwhile, talked about inclusivity of all sectors in promoting and managing the programs for the tourism industry. “Tourism is a country undertaking, lahat tayo dapat magparticipate—mayaman o mahirap dapat tayong magparticipate; mayaman o mahirap pwedeng kumita dyan, kaya dapat ipaglaban natin yan,” he said.

He underscored the provisions of the law for infrastructure development, and identification of new tourism destinations or establishment of new tourism enterprise zones to enhance the income-generating capacities of the people.

Preview of Onward: The Philippines Tourism Decade Exhibition

People as the heart of the tourism campaign

With the launch of the “Tourism Decade Campaign,” the DOT underscores the fruits of the law’s implementation by revealing the heart-warming stories of communities and personalities who have been positively transformed by tourism.

“This tourism campaign pays homage to the people, organizations and communities who have reaped the benefits of sustainable tourism as envisioned by the proponents of the law,” Sec. Puyat shared.

DOT recognizes the narratives of our people as the heart of our tourism industry, delivering inspiration, excitement and joy to both local and foreign visitors.

The campaign features the stories of Whang-Od, the century-old Mambabatok of Kalinga; Rambo, the dog tour guide of Batad, Ifugao; the Deafinite Tour Guiding Service of Intramuros for its deaf-friendly tours; the Lake Pandin Women Rafters of San Pablo, Laguna; and Bobby Adrao, an advocate for whale shark protection in Donsol, Sorsogon.

The inspiring T’boli dancers

Further down south, the campaign puts the spotlight on two Puerto Princesa locals: Angelo Cayabo, a former dishwasher who established dolphin-watching tours in Palawan; and Eva Valledor, founder of Binuatan Creations, a successful sustainable community livelihood program famous for their weaved products. It also covered the experiences of the Loboc River Choir in Bohol; Laida Escoltura, a known home cook from General Luna, Siargao; and the indigenous T’Boli people of South Cotabato who exemplify how cultural tourism can enhance Philippine living traditions.

As part of the “Tourism Decade Campaign,” video documentaries of the featured personalities and communities can be accessed online at thetourismdecade.philippines.travel.

Another highlight is the preview of Onward: The Philippines Tourism Decade Exhibition at the former site of San Ignacio Church and an outdoor interactive installation in Plaza Roma, both located inside Intramuros’ historic walls. The project is a testament to tourism’s impact on Filipino lives, that it is seen, felt, and experienced not just by those who are able to travel, but also by those whose lives have significantly improved since 2009. The exhibition is not only a celebration of these 10 victorious years, it is also an affirmation that we continue to take the right steps forward, onward.

The exhibition will soon be open to the public and will run until December 2019, and admission is free.

To add more flavor to the celebration, there were performances from local talents such as the UP Padayon Rondalla and soprano Stephanie Quintin from the UP College of Music. The T’boli dancers of Lake Sebu, poets, and other cultural acts provided further entertainment.

Even after 10 years of the Tourism Act’s implementation, the DOT remains steadfast in its vision of developing a highly competitive and environmentally sustainable tourism industry that creates jobs and opportunities for Filipinos, bringing inclusive growth to all, and continues being a major component in nation building.

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