Aquino: Brush up on European languages
MANILA, Philippines - With the recent positive development on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) review, the President advised Solaire hotel staff members to learn European languages.
In his speech at the opening of the Solaire Manila Resorts on Saturday, March 16, President Benigno Aquino III said with the lifting of the ICAO's Significant Safety Concerns, the country is moving closer to the resumption of direct flights to and from Europe.
A favorable ICAO audit and a positive US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) review have long been awaited especially by local airlines and tourism officials because these would like to bring more foreign visitors from the huge markets of the US and EU.
The European Union may also follow the FAA's move after it blacklisted the Philippines in 2010.
"This is certainly a welcome development, as we are moving closer to the day when our carriers can resume their flights to and from Europe and the United States, and in the coming weeks, months, and years, we will work even harder to make that vision a reality. So, as early as now—again may I offer unsolicited advice?—is that the hotel staff here probably should brush up on their European languages," the President said.
The President also said more tourists are expected to visit the country given that the law that removes the common carriers tax (CCT) for all international air and shipping carriers on receipts and income derived from transporting passengers was already in place.
He said that while this will cause the government lower revenues in the near-term, the law will benefit the country in the long-term. The new law is expected to encourage more international airlines and shipping lines to visit the country.
The law will exempt international flights from paying the CCT, which is equivalent to 3% of the airline’s gross turnover and the Gross Philippine Billings Tax (GPBT), and which is 2% of the gross turnover -- provided that their home countries give the same tax exemption to Philippines carriers.
"The Law will encourage more foreign carriers to expand their operations here, thus creating more jobs, bringing in more tourists, and allowing for the growth of your industry," the President said.
More rooms needed
The President said that with all these developments, the Philippines needs to build more hotel rooms. He said that to meet the demand by 2016, the country will require some 37,000 more hotel rooms in tourism hot spots.
The government already raised its domestic tourism arrival target to 56.1 million by 2016. This is because the original target of 35.5 million was breached in 2011 when 37.5 million tourists visited the Philippines.
"What does this all mean for hotels like your own? It means that by 2016, we will need an estimated 37,000 more hotel rooms in tourism hot spots. So while I am happy to hear that you already put up 500 rooms and another 300 expected to be completed by 2014 in this hotel, I have some friendly advice for you: kindly build more rooms," the President said.
The tourism sector is expected to account for as much as 18% to 20% of the country's total employment by 2016.
At the Philippine Yearend Economic Briefing on Wednesday, February 13, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr added that this will allow the sector to increase its share to 11% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current level of 7%. - Rappler.com