The incoming economic team of the president-elect is well-chosen and of the highest level. How do I know this? The best of many indicators is that even the most yellow columnists in the most yellow newspapers had to admit it, either reluctantly or with great enthusiasm. I watched some of their interviews, and only a narrow-minded and biased person would not say that he has the right experience, thinking and he said rational and necessary points in his interviews.
I am particularly pleased that Secretary of State Diokno and Secretary of State Balisakan have highlighted the importance of manufacturing, agriculture and mining. They seem to concentrate on the main issues.
I think the fastest areas that could lead to tangible improvements are the mining industry, which I wrote about two weeks ago, and agriculture, not only in increasing yields, but also in reducing losses and processing inefficiencies. Add tourism. We tend to treat this as an afterthought. It shouldn’t be, and this could be a great opportunity for OFWs to come back and work for an equivalent wage but stay at home. We send many of our employees abroad to work in the tourism industry, be it hotels, restaurants, cruise ships and the like. Thailand and once again Vietnam are so smart that they bring tourists to the country, rather than sending their people to serve tourists in other countries.
Boracay Island in the Visayas, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTH
Let’s look at the statistics for the last full year before Covid, 2019. With 7,000 islands and over 100 million people, the Philippines is proud to have received a record 8.2 million arrivals, up 15 percent from 7.1 million a year earlier. I don’t use the word “tourist” as the number of overseas Filipinos coming home or on vacation is not broken down. More than 2 million people came from South Korea, 1.74 million from China and just over 1 million from the United States, according to government figures. I suspect that the US is actually mostly Filipinos, while Koreans and Chinese are mostly tourists. According to the Ministry of Tourism, it brought in about $9.3 billion in revenue. Cebu is the most popular destination for tourism, at about 20 percent, although Metro Manila receives about 60 percent of arrivals.
Then let’s look at…