The sad news: We’re driving tourists away…

Beinga passionate traveler myself, my eyes would brighten up everytime I talk aboutthe beautiful places in the Philippines to foreigners I’ve met. I couldrandomly help a traveller here and would go to a Lonely Planet mode, givinginfo and tips about the places that I think are worth recommending. One of myfriends even branded me as “Ms. Mabuhay Philippines” because of that (hahaha!) andI guess you could see that enthusiasm in this travel blog. “If tourism were just about allthe beautiful things that a country had to offer, we would be top on anytraveler’s list–because we DO have EVERYTHING that a tourist would want toenjoy on a well-earned vacation.”

Havingsaid that, it just depresses me to hear news such as Ninoy Aquino InternationalAirport being voted the worst airport “for sleeping in” on the same week that AirFrance-KLM announced a phasing out of its Manila-Amsterdam route. I couldn’tagree more with Nina Terol-Ziacita’s article when she said that while our country hasthe perfect touristy allure, “we also have MANY of the things that would drive ANYONE away fromANY country: an inefficient bureaucracy, a horrible public transport system,heavily polluted streets, chaotic urban areas, beggars and street urchinsloitering on the streets, crime, corruption–name it, we probably have it.”  That’s why come news broadcast time at night, I would step out of our living room because I’m seeing the same kind of bad news over and over (and we all get so numb of it already, and that’s another sad story). They’ve just become the usual icebreaker if you find yourself striking up a conversation with someone on the street.

*Sigh* The problem of the Philippines, as Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez himself had pointed is that, “We haven’t really acted like a tourism country. We’ve got an airport that doesn’t look like it wants to welcome visitors and make them stay; we’ve got a terrible public transport system and public infrastructure that discourages people from exploring any town or city in this country; we’ve got a tax regime and a business climate that discourages investments; we tear down historical landmarks instead of preserving them; we’ve got corruption; we’ve got garbage. In short: aside from our innate creativity, our laughter, and the genuine warmth of our people, we’ve given foreigners many reasons to stay away from us, from the level of policy formulation all the way to policy execution. It’s poor governance over the last few decades that has made us a weak tourism brand.”

I don’t only look forward to what Sec. Jimenez “rockstar of advertising” can do to our tourism industry, not only for President Aquino and his administration’s projects to finally take place… I’m waiting for the whole country to get our acts together! Nope, I shouldn’t just wait. I’ll do something to make Philippines a little bit better in my own way. I hope you also do. We’ve just got to want this change SO BAD. 
*Some places I’d like to visit in the Philippines next year:*
Bantayan Island, Cebu. From Eric Brian Ouano, Flickr
 Batanes. From Anton Diaz, Our Awesome Planet.
Coron, Palawan. From Anton Diaz, Our Awesome Planet.

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