Monday, 21 November 2011

Why tourists are not coming

Phl one of most liberalized in terms of air access 

MANILA, Philippines - A tourism group has debunked the recurring claim by open skies advocates that the Philippines needs to further open up its skies to attract more tourists as it revealed information that the country is one of the most liberalized in terms of air access by foreign carriers.

“Open skies advocates have been harping on the need for full open skies to attract more tourists but in reality we have already a very liberalized air policy as shown by the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2011 of the World Economic Forum,” Robert Lim Joseph, founder of TourismWatch Philippines, said.

Joseph said based on the report, the Philippines is ranked 29 out of 139 countries in terms of “Openness of bilateral Air Service Agreements.”

He said although the Philippines is number 29 in terms of openness, tourists are still not coming in droves compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Besides being exceedingly open to foreign carriers, the Philippines ranks number 30 out of 139 countries in terms of “Available seat kilometers, international.”

“This all proves that the poor performance of our tourism sector is not about accessibility to Philippine air market and availability of airline seats but other factors,” he said.

For ticket taxes and airport charges, the Philippines ranked 20 in the world out of 139 countries “so we cannot understand the rantings of the lobbyists to cancel our taxes on foreign carriers when this is not the issue.”

Joseph cited the reasons why tourists hesitate to visit the Philippines based on the findings of the report.

He said the Philippines ranks 112 in terms of quality of air transport infrastructure; 99 in terms of effectiveness of marketing and branding; 132 in terms of hotel rooms; 123 in terms of transparency of government policymaking; 105 in terms of reliability of police services; 109 in terms of safety and security; 114 in terms of quality of roads (specially to tourist destinations), and 70 in terms of government prioritization of the travel and tourism industry.

Joseph said these are the factors that the government should look into and address to boost tourism.

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