Senate President Koko Pimentel III declared his support for sustainable tourism that would improve quality of life for all, respect for the environment’s regenerative capacities, and more inclusive decision-making processes along with the growth in the tourism sector.
Pimentel made his statement in a speech before the 6th United Nations World Tourism Organization International Conference on Tourism, a conference of tourism ministers and national statisticians from all over the world to discuss the development of a statistical framework to support the measurement of sustainable tourism.
“Tourism is a priority development area that deserves greater attention. Focus now should not be on how much money it can contribute to government coffers but rather on how it can improve the overall well-being of people”, said the Senate President.
The Senate chief shared to the delegates the policies of the government which would help boost the tourism industry, such as the administration’s $23 billion infrastructure program, its independent foreign policy, and the shift to Federalism.
The senator from Mindanao added that he supports the policy of the Department of Tourism (DOT) not to raise tourist arrival targets until there is sufficient infrastructure to support more visitors.
But Pimentel cautioned, “We do need the tourist dollars, but not at the expense of a polluted environment, denuded forests, or displaced indigenous groups.”
For Pimentel, “Tourism is a vehicle for poverty reduction, a tool for environmental conservation, an impulse for cultural heritage preservation, and an avenue for strengthening people to people relationships.”
The senator called for a healthy balance between tourism and the broader social and environmental context.
Tourism accounts for 8.6% of the Philippines’ GDP.