Top ten

Michael Alan Hamlin

Posted on March 5, 2008

Travel and tourism needs a little respect…

My staff and I are doing research for the second edition of Marketing Asian Places , and racing to meet our deadline for submitting the complete manuscript at the end of this month. In the course of our research earlier this week, I came across some interesting top ten lists on the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) website. You’ll be interested to know that the Philippines shows up on three of the lists.

Personal travel and tourism, incidentally, is expected to generate about US$6.5 billion in revenues this year for the Philippines, which is roughly the same as the Philippines will earn from the offshoring and outsourcing (O&O) industry. But business travel and tourism will generate another $4.8 billion, for a total close to $12 billion. That’s $2 billion more than the O&O industry expects to make in 2010. Tourism revenues this year are likely to come in at around 85% of overseas remittances.

That brings me to the top ten lists. The Philippines shows up as number 10 on three of the lists. The first is the 10 countries that generated the largest amount of travel and tourism industry employment in 2007. If the WTTC estimate was realized, the Philippines employed almost 1.4 million Filipinos, or about five times more than the O&O industry. China (16.6 million) and India (11 million) topped the list. Other Asian countries in the top ten were Japan (3 million) at number four, Indonesia (2 million) at number six, and Thailand (1.9 million) at number seven.

Developing Asian economies made up half the list. The developed world was represented by the U.S., Japan, and Spain. Two other developing economies, Egypt and Brazil, rounded out the list. In a statement issued in January, WTTC president Jean-Claude Baumgarten noted the impact of tourism on developing economies. “Tourism growth has been particularly rapid in developing countries,” he said. “These countries are not only recognizing the development potential of travel and tourism and therefore investing heavily in new infrastructure and facilities but their citizens are also seeing rapid economic growth boost their incomes.”

The Philippines is seeing significant new private investment in tourism, such as the Shangri-La, Four Seasons, and Ritz-Carlton resorts being developed in Boracay, and two Banyan Tree resorts under construction in Palawan. Bohol is another hot spot. Unfortunately, although Tourism secretary Ace Durano is an enthusiastic champion for the sector, government investment in travel and tourism infrastructure, as well as promotions, has lagged behind regional competitors.

Better infrastructure and promotion help explain why Thailand’s travel and tourism industry is worth about twice the Philippines’ and generates 70% more jobs. Unfortunately, the top ten WTTC lists suggest that disparity will continue through 2017. In that year, the Philippines will still be the number 10 largest generator of travel and tourism industry employment in the world. And Thailand will still be number seven.

The jobs gap is expected to narrow somewhat, however. In 2017, if the WTTC is correct, the Philippines will have generated an additional 268,000 jobs. WTTC estimates that the Philippines will generate about $27 billion in travel and tourism revenues that year. Thailand won’t create as many jobs as the Philippines, but it will continue to generate substantially more revenue, more than 60% more in fact.

In developing Asia, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and China will create more travel and tourism industry jobs than the Philippines. Nevertheless, the Philippines will make the top ten list of travel and tourism industry job generators, at number 10 of course.

Coming in at number 10 on three travel and tourism lists is no small matter, particularly given that two of them are positions for most employed by the industry. Frankly, I was surprised, pleasantly, by the numbers. The WTTC estimates also demonstrate just how important travel and tourism remains to the Philippine economy in terms of revenue generation as well as employment. While the tech-oriented O&O industry has received much-deserved praise for its growing contribution to the economy, travel and tourism plays a larger but eclipsed role. Both deserve a great deal of focus and investment support.

What will it take to stay on the three top ten employment lists and get on more – such as growth in travel and tourism industry contribution to gross domestic product? Well, travel and tourism needs a little respect. And a lot more attention from government.

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