Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on the government and the private sector to work hand-in-hand to create world-class infrastructure that would boost tourism throughout the country.
Despite offering some of the best value-for-money tourist prices, the Philippines ranked 94th out of 139 countries in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2011 on a global scale, and 18th of 26 in the Asia-Pacific regional index.
One of the reasons for this is the dismal state of infrastructure in the country, noted Angara in his keynote address at the 4th General Membership Meeting of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association.
“We belong to the bottom quartile of the index in most aspects of infrastructure,” lamented the lawmaker. “In air transport, 112th; roads, 114th; and 131st in both port infrastructure and ground transport network.”
“We may have the most breathtaking sights and gorgeous seascapes, but without the necessary infrastructure, tourists will not be able to get to them with ease, if at all.”
The World Bank released a study asserting that the poor quality of infrastructure curbs tourism by impeding mobility, allowing only limited choices of transport and raising vehicle operating cost per kilometer. Studies also show a positive correlation between the quality of airports and the number of foreign tourist arrivals.
Senator Angara is taking steps to ensure that such quality infrastructure is built in the Philippines, beginning in his hometown of Aurora. The Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) is an emerging haven that exhibits the marriage of nature and modernization.
Roads and an airport have been built to encourage access to the area, while preserving the biodiversity.
Earlier this week, four Taiwanese companies signed up to locate in Aurora. As APECO generates greater interest among international investors, Angara grows optimistic that this vision can become a reality in the near future—first in the regions, and then to the nation at large. (30)