The tourism industry is bullish this year, with more Filipinos expected to travel abroad and an increasing number of foreign tourists set to visit the country.
The country’s biggest group of tour operators and travel agencies noted that more Filipinos were touring the world as the middle-class continues to expand. International tourists, meanwhile, are also increasing in numbers.
“I gathered that the Tourism Department is very much on track with its projections. Based on the revised Tourism master plan, the agency will hit all targets by 2022,” said Philippine Travel Agencies Association president Ritchie Tuano.
Tourist arrivals in 2018 hit an all-time record high of 7.12 million, up 7.6 percent from 6.62 million in 2017.
The Philippine tourism growth was cited as higher than the average 6-percent expansion in Asia last year.
“We are more concerned with the challenges that the sector is facing. The Boracay and Marawi issues were behind us now, but there is this need to ensure that things of the past will not happen anymore,” Tuano said.
The challenges include improving existing airports and creating more international gateways to decongest Metro Manila.
Most of the investments in the tourism sector so far are in the airline industry. They buy new planes for their re-fleeting programs but the facilities housing them are still way below international standards. Landing strips and the tarmac in airports are also inadequate.
Tuano added the challenge for travel and tour operators, meanwhile, was keeping fares and tour fees competitive. Ongoing airline promos help the segment keep prices at bay for a limited period of time.
The PTTA during the opening of the 4th International Travel Trade Expo Thursday said the group was making sure promos and offering would entice the public to travel more.
“The tourism landscape is evolving rapidly, the introduction of disruptive technologies require travel agencies to adjust with the times. As an association, we have to provide our members with the tools needed for them to continue growing,” said iTTE 2019 president Marlene Jante.