britishThe Philippine government invited British businessmen to come to the country to look at investment opportunities in the tourism industry, during a reception at the British House of Lords in London recently.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) together with Philippine Ambassador to the Court of St. James Antonio M. Lagdameo highlighted to the British businessmen the many advantages offered by the country, such as increased government incentives and the opportunities arising from the growing tourism market in the region, most especially on medical tourism and real estate investments.

The reception, hosted by Lord McNally and the DOT office in London headed by Tourism Attaché Domingo Ramon Enerio III, with the assistance of Friends Philippines through its founding chairman Paul Dimond, former United Kingdom (UK) Ambassador to the Philippines, the DOT made the pitch to attendees, which included the property developers, business executives, heads and representatives of travel and tourism companies, book publishers and travel writers, and the British media among others.

Tourism Secretary Ace Durano hailed the event as a positive reinforcement to the ongoing campaign of the Department.

“With long established mutual relations with the British stakeholders, we are now focusing on expansion and exploration into other forays of tourism investment, which is a priority category for foreign investments in the Philippines,” he said.

DOT reported to the businessmen that in the last four years, tourism arrivals in the Philippines have almost doubled. The industry is now worth more than US5 billion dollars. Durano expressed optimism about the prospects for foreign investment in Philippine tourism, citing the comparative advantages enjoyed by the country.

The DOT presentation also included a highlight on Central Philippines, called Tourism’s Super Region, which accounts for more than half of tourists visiting the islands, with Cebu leading the main destinations in the area, the others being Boracay, Bohol, Camarines Sur, Camiguin, Mindoro, Palawan, Romblon, Siargao, and the provinces of Western and Eastern Visayas.

Some of the top visitor draws in the said region were Mt. Mayon volcano, the whale shark butanding of Donsol, and Water Sports Center in Caramoan, all in Bicol; the rich bio diversity and the St. Paul Subterranean River of Palawan; the league-topping white beaches of Boracay; the Chocolate Hills, the whales and dolphins of Bohol; the cultural heritage sites, distinctive cuisine, entertainment and shopping centers and the hotels and resorts of Cebu; the local festivals and pristine beauty of Camiguin; and the surfing thrills of Siargao.

On the competitive advantages of the country, DOT enumerated the following: skilled managerial talents and technical manpower; rich natural and cultural tourism resources, with an abundance of tropical landscapes and man-made attractions that include Unesco World Heritage Sites, which are suitable for ecotourism ventures; land, sea and air transportation system and infrastructure that continue to be upgraded, linking the major islands and facilitating travel and transport between the major urban centers and emerging tourism hotspots; a responsive government from the national level down to local government units which welcome and encourage local and foreign business ventures as a direct means of alleviating poverty through job creation; government’s commitment to promote investments specially tourism by relaxing investment regulations and providing incentives, investing in infrastructure development and marketing activities; easy access to and from major international cities in the region; relative political stability which allows for regular local and national elections; and a creditable economic performance which has seen successive quarters of unprecedented growth in GDP during the last decade.

The DOT together with Ambassador Lagdameo thanked Lord McNally for the opportunity to make a pitch for Philippine tourism in such a prestigious venue as the British House of Lords. They also expressed the gratitude of the Philippine government and the Filipino people to Friends Philippines and to Ambassador Paul Dimond in particular for their role in drumming up interest among the British in Philippine trade, investments and tourism.