Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco (Photo courtesy of DOT)

MANILA – Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco has laid out anew the country's "holistic and comprehensive" plan to revive its once vibrant tourism industry, telling the international business community in New York that the Philippines is a destination ready to welcome visitors.

Joining the economic team at the Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) on Sept. 22, Frasco said Manila would continue to focus on enhancing connectivity, convenience, and quality for a better travel experience in the Philippines.

The Philippines reopened its borders in February 2022 and joined major Asian destinations in easing restrictions, the most recent of which was the approval to make face masks outdoors optional.

“The President has clearly identified tourism as a major tool for the economic resurgence of the Philippines, stating that it can be the economic driver upon which we herald the Filipino Brand and at the same time create economic opportunity and livelihood all over the country,” Frasco said.

She made an assurance that tourists' safety and security are also a top priority and that it has partnered with the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

To provide tourists a platform in case of emergencies, she added that a tourist assistance call center is also set to be launched this year.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself has reiterated that tourism promotion is a priority under his administration as he recognizes it as a prime mover of the Philippine economy.

“We will also reinvigorate the tourism sector by investing in travel infrastructure and the promotion of the Filipino brand. With the Department of Tourism leading our efforts to revitalize both domestic and foreign tourism, we will ensure the safe reopening of tourist destinations and develop the Philippines’ yet-to-be-discovered attractions,” he said in his speech.

The PEB forum was organized to entice businesses from the United States and other countries to invest in the Philippines, dubbed as the first of its kind done by the country’s economic team in North America.

During the forum held on the final leg of the President’s visit to the United States, the Philippine Team highlighted the current economic status and accomplishments of the country.

The country’s economic managers strategically illustrated the aspirations and plans of the current administration in its aim to bring the Philippines to an upper-middle income status economy by 2024, earlier than the administration’s end of term in 2028.

Aside from PEB, Frasco on Sept. 22 also took her listening tours in the United States and engaged with tourism stakeholders and Filipino-American regional associations who raised the need to strengthen the marketing and promotional campaign "to drive up more tourists and make the country top-of-mind".

Frasco, meanwhile, expressed the DOT’s commitment to promoting new and existing tourism product portfolio, particularly the country's film tourism and the arts.

She said DOT would extend any possible support to stakeholders catering to niche travel groups and markets including high-impact or upscale travelers, students and youth, wellness, meetings, incentives, conferencing, and exhibitions.

Among the associations and companies represented during the meeting were Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental Association of New York, Inc.; Cathay Pacific; CEBU Inc.; Fiesta in America; GTT Travel; Korean Air; J3 Marketing and Productions; SAF Travelworld Inc.; Skal International New York; StudentUniverse; St. Michael & Company; Philippine Airlines; and Virtuoso. (PNA)