New Philippine tourism secretary conducts ‘reality check’

wanda-tulfo-teoWanda Tulfo Teo

THE first order of business for the Philippines’ newly appointed Department of Tourism (DoT) secretary are housekeeping matters affecting the daily operations of the agency.

Wanda Teo, who took office in July, embarked on a marathon of meetings with internal heads to conduct a “reality check”, according to a DoT statement, to ascertain if its resources are used efficiently for tourism-related projects and activities.

One of the first actions taken was the scrapping of the processing fee for the issuance of certificates of travel tax exemption and reduced travel tax, which came into effect since July 25.

There is also an ongoing discussion to integrate the terminal fee into the passenger’s airline ticket payment in hopes to simplify travel regulations and ease the queuing and delays at Philippine airport terminals.

Outside of internal workings, Teo also met with Tourism Authority of Thailand officials and the Thai minister of tourism and sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, who offered collaboration between the two countries in farm tourism, youth development as well as women and indigenous community projects.

Representatives from the Thai Travel Agents Association also met up with Teo to discuss how tour operators can send more Thai tourists to the Philippines.

She also travelled to the US to explore opportunities for tourism advocacy among the Filipino-American community and to see if medical tourism is a possibility for Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike residing on the country’s east coast.

Teo asserts that the DoT will be emphasising on domestic tourism too, and that the agency will be geared towards “shared tourism” to ensure that the economic benefits of tourism are felt by marginalised members of local communities.

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