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The Philippine Board of Investments (BOI), the country’s primary industry development arm and lead investment promotion agency (IPA), continued its series of discussions with industry stakeholders as it redoubles efforts to boost domestic industries and further improve its global competitiveness.

These series of discussions known as Trade and Industry Development (TID) Talks, serve as one the BOI’s multi-sectoral platforms to be proactive and responsive to the needs of the industries as it aims to engage, inform, update, discuss their issues and concerns as well as suggest or propose strategies or solutions.

On October 12, 2018 at the Makati Diamond Residences, it was the turn of the tourism sector to take the spotlight with emphasis on the implementation of the Hotel/Accommodation roadmap along with the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) and Medical Travel and Wellness Tourism (MTWT) roadmaps. Representatives and officials of Department of Tourism (DOT), the Philippine Hotels Ownership Association (PHOA), Philippine Association of Convention/Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers Inc. (PACEOS) as well as those in the medical wellness were on hand to exchange ideas and inputs.

Left photo shows BOI Assistant Secretary Felicitas Agoncillo-Reyes delivers the Opening Remarks during the Trade and Industry Development Talks on the Tourism Sector held at the Makati Diamond Residences. Panel of Speakers, Presenters and Guests were led by BOI Governor Napoleon Concepcion (far left), Monette Hamlin of the Philippine Association of Convention/Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers Inc. (PACEOS) (2nd from left); Trade Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba (6th from left); Former DOT Secretary Roberto Pagdanganan (7th from left); Trade Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo (5th from right), BOI Assistant Secretary Felicitas Agoncillo-Ryes (4th from right); and Joyce Socao-Alumno, President of HealthCore (2nd from right).

These roadmaps are the centerpiece in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth. Our concerted efforts engage the stakeholders towards enhancing industry development are very true and are now gaining traction. Additionally, inclusive business (IB) is gaining ground in this sector. The first two IB projects approved came from tourism. Under the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP), we encourage companies to adopt IB models as a way to combat poverty,” BOI Assistant Secretary for Investments Promotion Group Felicitas Agoncillo-Reyes said at the start of the event.

This forum is essential for us in the government to hear the inputs of our partners in the industry and to continuously work in harmony to attain our collective and sustainable growth objectives. Tourism is no longer seen as a leisure experience. Over the years, it has evolved into a major economic driver and one of the biggest job generators among industries. These roadmaps would not have come into fruition without the assistance of the BOI and its collaborative effort among industry stakeholders. Time and again, we in the government keep on mentioning the need for cooperation among the public and private sectors. This forum serves as the venue for us in the government to hear the industry’s inputs in advancing the tourism industry and to possibly develop supplementary and collaborative initiatives between the government and industry stakeholders,” said DOT Undersecretary for Tourism Development Planning Benito Bengzon Jr. during his keynote message.

Esteban Pena Sy, President of Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel and representative of PHOA disclosed during the session that his group plans to add at least 10,000 more hotel rooms in the next three to four years to keep up with the strong accommodation demand among foreign and domestic tourists.

Joye Alumno, President and CEO of HealthCore, presented the updates of the MTWT roadmap. She said that according to Patient Beyond Borders, the global medical travel market has around 11 to 15 million tourists with expenses of US$46 to 72 billion or an average spend of US$3,800 to US$6,000 per person. She added that “six of the top ten medical tourist destinations lie in the Asia-Pacific with up to 11 million medical tourists. The Philippines along with Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea have a combined 95 percent share of the market. So the Southeast Asian region with four countries is playing a big role in the entire medical tourism industry.” She admitted that the performances of other Asia Pacific countries are already ahead of the Philippines and we need to catch up so more hospitals need to be built as most treatments can be made locally. “We aspire to be a significant medical, wellness and retirement hub by attracting foreign patients from Australia, Indonesia, Palau, Micronesia, Middle East, the U.S. and Europe. By having foreign patients, hospitals are encouraged to upgrade and modernize of new markets. Medical travel and wellness tourism are not just to add tourist arrivals and revenues. Of equal importance is the motivation to reduce our country’s burden on the rising costs of healthcare and giving our people access to better quality healthcare,” she concluded.

Marisa Nallana, President of Philippine Exhibitions and Trade Corp. (PETCO) presented the status of the MICE roadmap. She said that although the International Congress Convention Association (ICCA) ranked the Philippines as 59th in the world and 13th in Asia-Pacific among meetings, she believes our problem is “we don’t get the exact figures from hotels and organizers for fear of client snatching. Most foreign companies and association feel that the Philippines is not a good destination for meetings because of these figures. So I guess it’s high time we report the correct figures to correct the perception.” She added ”there’s hope and a cohesive program in the MICE roadmap thanks to the support of the DTI and BOI that will jumpstart everything in the industry. We hope with MICE, we can work with the government in putting up more convention centers to take advantage of our strategic location in Asia with competitive event planners and suppliers and a wide range of accommodation choices. Let these TID talks be a jumpstart for all of us to work together.”

Department of Finance (DOF) Director Juvy Danofrata presented an overview of the second phase of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program known as the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) Bill.

We identify the existing growth potentials of the industry both for the domestic and export markets. And in the case of tourism, where are we in the global value chain of the tourism industry and which stage the Philippines is located and can we still upgrade our position and move up in the global value chain? I am hoping with this meeting now, we will be able to pursue the impact of tourism along with its spillover and multiplier effects across different regions in the country,” Trade Assistant Secretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy Group Rafaelita Aldaba said in relation to the Strategic Investments Priority Plan (SIPP) she discussed. She added “encouraging more collaboration and more coordination not only within government but with our industry partners and along with other stakeholders like the academe and civil society. Let’s try to find a win-win solution for an acceptable incentive structure for both the government and the industry.”

In 2017, the tourism industry captured 12.2 percent share of the economic output, per data from Philippine Statistics Authority. The Tourism Direct Gross Value Added (TDGVA) relative to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) amounted to PhP1.93 trillion, higher by 24.2 percent than 2016’s PhP1.55 trillion. Inbound tourism expenditure (foreign visitors and Filipinos permanently residing abroad) grew by 43.9 percent to PhP448.6 billion from PhP 311.7 billion in 2016. Compared to the country’s total exports, the share of inbound tourism expenditure was 9.2 percent. Inbound tourism ranked third among the biggest export items in 2017, after semiconductors at 21.9 percent and miscellaneous services at 15.7 percent. Domestic tourism expenditure (which includes expenditure of resident visitors within the country) increased by 25.5 percent, from PhP 2.11 trillion in 2016 to PhP2.64 trillion in 2017. Domestic tourism expenditure represents 22.8 percent of the household final consumption expenditure (HFCE) in 2017.

Overall employment in tourism industries was estimated at 5.3 million in 2017, up by 0.9 percent compared to 5.2 million in the previous year. Share of employment in tourism to total employment in the country was recorded at 13.1 percent in 2017.

The Duterte administration aims to attract 7.4 million tourists this year. Despite the six-month Boracay closure (which just re-opened in October), foreign tourist arrivals (from DOT data) continued to come in droves with figures reaching 5.36 million from January to September 2018, up 8.3 percent from 4.95 million during the same period last year. South Koreans remained the top tourists with a 22 percent of the market pie or 1.18 million arrivals. China was runner-up with 972,550 for an 18.1 percent share. The U.S. came in third with 774,657 arrivals accounting for 14.5 percent slice. Japan (485,121 or 9% share) and Australia (199,201 at 3.1% share) rounded out the top five countries.

These roadmaps are part of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) which seeks to increase foreign tourist arrivals to 12 million and around 90 million domestic travelers, Php3.9 trillion in tourism receipts, 6.5M tourism jobs by 2022. It is worth noting that the 12.2 percent GDP share of tourism in 2017 already exceeded the 10 percent share of GDP that the government has targeted by 2022. Additionally per DOT figures, 96.7 million domestic tourist arrivals were recorded last year, already beyond the target set for 2022.

Meanwhile, the printing, paper and book publishing sectors held its TID discussions with the BOI on October 25, 2018 in the same venue. Representatives and officials of the Philippine Center for Print Excellence Foundation (PCPEF), Philippine Paper Manufactures Association (PPMA), National Book Development Board (NBDB) were present as well as officials from the government agencies such as DTI, Optical Media Board (OMB), DOF, Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Education (DEPED).

Left photo shows Trade Underscretary and BOI Managing Head presenting the Trade and Industry Development Initiatives during the Trade and Industry Development (TID) Talks on Printing, Paper and Book Publishing Sectors at the Makati Diamond Residences. Right photo shows BOI Governor Napoleon Concepcion (5th from right) and Rex Group of Companies President, Atty. Dominador Buhain (6th from right) along with other sectoral stakeholders.


Digitalization poses a big problem for our industries. The challenge is to remain sustainable and significant in the fourth Industrial Revolution dominated by robotics and artificial intelligence People are relying more on the internet as a source of information and entertainment. So we need to pull ourselves together as one and move as one to address these challenges,” BOI Governor Napoleon Conception said in his opening remarks.

More than sprouting statistics since we have no accurate date or lack of it, our lack of competitiveness in tackling head on our Asian printing counterparts remains. Efficient packaging and attractive printing system will help market our homegrown agricultural and other consumer products. It is labeling and product design that spur purchases. The Filipino ingenuity will always be a par with our foreign peers if not better. What is needed is to transform Filipino creativity into qualitative reality,” Austin Go of PCPEF said on the challenges posed by the printing industry. He proposed a summit to bring all the stakeholders, the suppliers, printers and buyers to exchange ideas and plot strategies to bring about a strong printing industry. “We need the buyers’ input on where we should concentrate our printing efforts and marketing,” he added.

Around 15 percent of paper that we use everyday are graphic papers which serve as a medium of information and helps us in our expression of culture. The biggest share is the packaging papers which cover over 62 percent. Local paper production serve less than half of the total paper demand. But overall, the demand for paper products actually grew by 8 percent annually. The red flag is the imported papers which actually grew by 12 percent a year. But this year, the latest figure shows importation is up by 22 percent,” Rey Geganto of PPMA said on the situation of the paper and pulp industry.

I would like to correct the impression that e-books are fast replacing hard books in publishing. It is only in the U.S. where its share is 20 percent and growing. Here it is only about 2 to 7 percent shares but we acknowledge it is steadily growing. We should turn our focus towards further developing our textbook publishing especially on educational publishing to strengthen the industry,” said Dominador Buhain of Rex Group of Companies as he presented the outlook of the book publishing industry.

We have a strong economy and one thing thing that is common among three sectors is that there is demand in the Philippines. The market is here. We have a big and growing population. Our income is continuous growing. It’s a question is how do we convert these demand into opportunities in our respective sectors. It’s also a question of how do we meet this demand – would it be through importation or local production. So far, our local production cannot cope with such strong demand. It’s a situation that not only faces these sectors but all across the industries like steel, cement, automotive, among others,” Trade Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said.♦

Date of Release: 6 December 2018

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