Foreign Tourist Confidence
TRAVERSING THE TOURISM HI-WAY
POLITICIANS of major parties and aggrupation have declared their candidacy for national positions and for Congress in the 2016 Election. The leading candidates who come from the elite in power politics are without economic program of governance. No one have ever mentioned of any advocacy to review and amend the economic provisions of our Constitution once elected into office. Aside from their rhetoric about personal issues and promises, we still have to hear from their platforms and political agenda to open the domestic economy to direct foreign ownership of business and land acquisition by foreigners in our country, a long clamor in the foreign business community and our economic Managers. Foreign investments as well as tourist arrivals in the Philippines are economic cycles closely related to each other that must be reconciled to some constitutional restriction in our country to ease foreign confidence and built pride of ownership to their respective countries presence in the Philippines.
Travel is not only motivated by leisure and tours alone but it is also driven by the business aspect of establishing friendship and good relations with people of other countries for trading of goods and exchange of services. Some theories of business are influence by the inner drive to explore the outside world for knowledge and new discoveries. Magellan, the first foreign tourist who landed in the Philippines did not envision a sightseeing tour but was searching for spices and gold. The Portuguese traveler, Marco Polo, who sails to the Far East in the sixteen century neither has the fascination to taste the oriental cuisine of Honkong, but instead landed in the island to engage in trading of silk and barter of weapons with gold from the Chinese merchants.
Moving fast forward from history to the present, some corollary data from the Central Bank of the Philippines showed that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for the first half of 2015 fell to 40 percent year to date, which is equivalent to USD 2 Billion of lost business opportunities compared to 2014. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) reported also that the first six months of the year, new foreign investment approvals went down by 25 percent representing USD 1.8 Billion forecast for both pioneering and expansion projects. The downturns figures have serious consequences to businesspersons travel and visits to the Philippines. This could be tied up to the equation of lower foreign investments equals few foreign arrivals and visits to our country. Our foreign arrival figures are extrapolated from the number of nationality passports of every arriving passenger in our port of entries. That is where our foreign arrival statistics comes from.
Tourist confidence is factored in their countries presence in a foreign territory. It is not peace and order alone or the fear of entrapment in a “Tanim Bala” scenario that influence any country’s inclusion in the itineraries of travelers. Dubai, Qatar and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates are security conscious and expensive cities judging from their wealth and modernity, yet Americans and European tourist, business executives and expatriates are filing up their mega hotels driving the average foreign length of stay the highest in the world. Airlines serving the Emirate countries have a 96 percent average seats sold from the long haul market and these are Airbus 360’s and Boing 747’s that can carry from 400 to 800 passengers, amazing and why? It is because many foreign countries have huge investments in the UAE, ranging from oil exploration, supply of machineries, information technologies and financial services. Foreign companies owns majority of the high-rise buildings, international banks and the duty free shops in the whole Emirate Cities. There are no intricate laws or economic restrictions of property ownership in their monarchy decrees, foreign investment and joint ventures are welcomed, unlike in our country that have so many regulations that comes from long debates grounded from an outdated fundamental law.
Recently, the joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce operating in the Philippines composed of the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea and the European Union have called for opening of the Mining Sector for foreign exploration and for land ownerships in the established tourism zones as well as unburdened the foreign investors from red tapes and corruption. Perhaps, it is a task for the next President and Congress of this country to head the call for more globalization policies to bring in more foreign investments and foreign visitors to our shores.
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