NO tourism enterprise should be allowed to operate in the country, unless it meets the minimum standards set by the Department of Tourism.
Lawyer Ma. Victoria Jasmin, DOT undersecretary for tourism regulation, coordination and revenue generation, said the agency is currently working on new hotel and resorts standards to be published before the end of March.
“This would mean that all primary tourism enterprises should be accredited by the DOT prior to operation, hence, they should comply with the DOT’s minimum requirements,” she said in a memorandum to Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., a copy of which was sent to the BusinessMirror.
“Primary tourism enterprises,” are defined in the implementing rules of the Tourism Act of 2009, as “travel and tour services, land, sea and air transport services exclusively for tourist use; accommodation establishments; convention and exhibition organizers; tourism estate management services; and such other enterprises as may be identified by the Secretary, after due consultation with concerned sectors.”
Jasmin’s memo was prompted by the recent publication of the results of a 2009 survey of tourism establishments in the country by the National Statistics Office —a joint undertaking with the DOT—which showed that 548 of the 1,475 “accommodation establishments” surveyed did not offer essential tourism services such as laundry, airport transfers, spa/massage therapy services, tour services, medical services, cultural and recreational shows, among others. (See "Tourism-wise, Philippines was not fun in 2009–NSO", in the BusinessMirror, Jan. 16, 2012.)
But she said those who responded to the survey were “both accredited and non-accredited facilities,” and that most of those failed to offer the essential tourism services “are non-accredited by the DOT.”
According to the NSO, the 2009 Survey of Tourism Establishments in the Philippines (STEP) covered four tourism industries: hotels and motels, pension houses, other short-stay accommodation, and transport equipment rental. Also covered in the survey were establishments engaged in: accommodation, restaurant passenger transport, transport equipment rental, travel agency, tour operator and tourist guide services, recreation, entertainment, cultural services and similar activities, financial and insurance activities, and health and wellness.
The survey showed “only 194 establishments or 13.6 percent of the total” were accredited by the DOT in 2009 and that “more than half of the total establishments with DOT accreditation in 2009 were…tour and travel agencies.”
“The respondents are a mix of big, medium, and small-scale tourism facilities which have varying all types of services offered to tourists,” Jasmin said. “It would, therefore, be inappropriate to assume or conclude that same must be required for all types of accommodation facilities, since different categories of facilities required different sets of services.”
She said the survey was also conducted “to determine at the time of approval of RA 9353 [the Tourism Act of 2009], the state of accommodation capacities in the country, so that appropriate measures could be undertaken toward ensuring that most, if not all accommodation establishments, comply with the necessary requirements for mandatory accreditation.”
Meanwhile, the survey also indicated a robust growth among tour and travel agencies—one out of 10 of such establishments said they were going to expand in the next five years.
Other significant findings in the 2009 STEP survey were:
• Tours and travel agencies accounted for the largest number, or 60.4 percent, of the 1,430 establishments counted by the survey. This was followed by supporting and auxiliary activities to water transport industry (10.6 percent); Booking offices/Tourist assistance activities, not elsewhere classified (8.3 percent); Inter-urban bus lines (6.2 percent); Chartered buses and cars operation/Other land transport operation (4.9 percent). Domestic air passenger and freight transport/International air passenger and freight transport, registered only five establishments and thus classified under “other industries.”
• Overall, the tourism industry is male-dominated at 77.2 percent of total employees in 2009. Only tours and travel agencies (60 percent), as well as booking offices/tourist guides (65 percent) were dominated by female employees.
• Transport operators, tour and travel agencies reported a total revenue of P164.5 billion, of which 41.6 percent was generated from tourists. Among industries, domestic air passenger and freight transport/international air passenger and freight transport earned both the highest total revenue and revenue generated from tourists with P97.1 billion and P54.3 billion, respectively.
• There were 1,012 tour guides registered, of which 74.3 percent were hired by tour and travel agencies. “One out of three tour guides were freelancers or on commission basis.”
• A total of 5,319, units or 42.2 percent, of the total land transport facilities owned and operated by the establishments were cars/sedans. More than half or 3,285 cars/sedans were used as public utility cars and taxicabs.
(My piece was originally published in the BusinessMirror, Jan. 24, 2012.)