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Marcos: 'Tourist rest areas' will help PH become Asia's tourism powerhouse

Marcos emphasized that tourist rest areas will help the Philippines became a tourism powerhouse in Asia.

President Ferdinand ''Bongbong'' Marcos Jr. on Friday emphasized that tourist rest areas (TRA) would help the Philippines become a tourism powerhouse in Asia.

''This TRA is an important initiative for us as we want to transform the Philippines into the tourism powerhouse in Asia. We are in very stiff competition," Marcos said during the inauguration of the tourist rest area in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

"Thailand has done an extremely good job in promoting tourism. Korea has done a very, very good job doing that. Indonesia, the same thing. Vietnam, the same thing,'' he added.

Marcos said that in Ilocos Norte, more than 3.5 million same-day visitors were recorded in 2023 and around 515,000 domestic and foreign tourists stayed in hotels and resorts.

''It shows that we have the attractions; we have the products; and we have the people to make it happen. I am truly proud to call this land my home as it continues to draw critical acclaim here and abroad,'' he said. 

According to Marcos, his administration is eyeing a 10-fold increase in tourist arrivals from the "Balikbayan program."

“Ang ambisyon natin doon one million tourists. That was the ambition.  One million tourists can come back. And then kasama na doon 'yung mga overseas Filipinos. Kaya nagkaroon ng balikbayan box dahil hindi binubuwisan,” Marcos said.  

“Now, we are targeting 10 times that. And we have started to approach that, but there are many aspects to tourism. It's not just the beautiful beach. It's not just the beautiful rest house or the nice hotels and the resorts that they stay in," he added.

The Philippines’ Balikbayan Program was enacted in November 1989 to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to visit the Philippines, according to the Presidential Communications Office.

Marcos mentioned that even the Saud Beach in the province was listed as one of the 25 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World by Travel & Leisure.

He also said there are projects that are geared toward expanding not only tourism, but the broader development of the countryside, which follows a strong tourism industry.

''I am confident that these exciting developments will become a springboard for [the] further success [of] tourism in Ilocos Norte and the Philippines and from this moment onwards,'' Marcos said. —VAL, GMA Integrated News