MANILA With the onset of the six-month closure of the island of Boracay, Senator Sonny Angara on Thursday urged the government to aggressively promote other Philippine tourist destinations especially in poorer areas to sustain the country's tourism industry.
"Habang sumasailalim sa rehabilitasyon ang Boracay, napakarami pang ibang magaganda at world-class destinations sa bansa na dapat nating ipagmalaki (while Boracay is undergoing rehabilitation, there are numerous beautiful and world-class destinations in the country which we can be proud of). This is an opportune time to help bring our other tourist spots to international recognition, which would continue to entice tourists to visit the Philippines," Angara said.
The senator cited Sorsogon, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Zamboanga, Catanduanes and Siquijor, which are among the poorest provinces, as potential tourist magnets because of their beautiful beaches.
To attract more tourists, Angara said local governments should invest in tourism and develop the necessary infrastructure that would make it easier for tourists to visit the area.
We should improve our road networks and fix our airports. Even Baler, my hometown, could attract more tourists if the establishment of the airport could be fast-tracked," the chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government said.
He said a boost in tourism would generate more jobs, which would in turn help alleviate poverty in these provinces.
"Talagang nakalilikha ng trabaho at kabuhayan ang turismo para sa mga lokalidad. Kahit iyong mga hindi nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral ay maaaring kumita sa pagtu-tour guide o sa pagtitinda ng souvenirs at iba pa. Malaking tulong ang turismo upang sila ay umangat sa buhay (Tourism really create jobs and livelihood in the localities. Even those who did not finish their studies could earn in being tour guides or selling souvenirs among others. Tourism could be a great help for them to improve their lives)," Angara said.
However, the lawmaker said that these emerging tourist hotspots should be prepared for the expected surge of visitors.
Angara, one of the authors of the Tourism Act of the Philippines, said Boracay should serve as a lesson to the tourism industry, and commended the government's initiatives to check the status of other beach destinations including El Nido and Coron in Palawan, Siargao in Surigao del Norte, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, and Panglao Island in Bohol if they are environmentally compliant.
"Dapat ay magsilbing aral na sa lokal na turismo ang sinapit ng Boracay (What happened to Boracay should serve as a lesson for the local tourism sector). We call on government agencies and local officials to strictly implement environmental laws and local ordinances so as to ensure their sustainable development," Angara said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency