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PRIVATE SECTOR TO BOOST GOV’T-OWNED TOURISM SITES

In order to make some government assets in the tourism sector more profitable, Senator Sonny Angara said that possible collaborations with the private sector should be explored to develop their full potential.

Speaking at a recent forum on public-private collaboration organized by the Ateneo School of Government, Angara said that tourism is one area where a possible partnership between the government and the private sector could be explored more extensively.

“Government owns a lot of assets.”

“Government owns a lot of assets. But let’s face it, the government is not the best at running these enterprises. You’re not maximizing earnings in these enterprises,” the veteran legislator said.

As examples, the seasoned lawmaker cited the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel and some islands in the Visayas, which are owned and operated by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, which he said are prime tourist destinations that could use a little help from private enterprises with strong track records in developing such assets.

“Maybe the private sector could come in and do some variant of BOT (build-operate-transfer).”

“If you could make them attractive, maybe the private sector could come in and do some variant of BOT (build-operate-transfer). They can make it profitable, they can make it nice and then turn these back over to the government at some point in the future,” the senator pointed out.

He said that this is still a largely unexplored area of public-private collaboration that could provide a boost to the tourism industry, generate a lot of economic activity and provide employment for Filipinos.

The tourism sector was among the most badly affected sectors when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country as restrictions on travel were imposed.

While the tourism sector does not appear to be on the top of the priorities of the government at this time, Angara said that its revival will have to be addressed once there is more certainty regarding the health and safety of travelers, both domestic and foreign.

“Tourism contributes a great deal to the growth of our economy. It is lamentable that the pandemic struck at a time when the sector was already recording impressive growth,” he stressed.

“Tourism will continue to be a driver of growth once things go back to normal. With the right programs and investments, including closer public-private collaboration, I believe the Philippines could easily compete with the best in the region because of how much it has to offer,” Angara concluded.

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