SOMEBODY IN the Department of Tourism has been making the rounds of the top hotels in the metropolis, trying to sell a little scheme.
From what I heard, the scheme concerns this thing called “open skies policy,” which is about commercial flights of foreign airlines in the country.
Under the policy, the government will give foreign airlines all the rights to fly to and out of the Philippines.
Not only that, the foreign airlines can fly here from any country in the world, even from countries that are not the foreign airlines’ home bases.
The catch is that the Philippines will not get anything in return, except the unproven claim of some groups that the policy is good for tourism. Hmmm...
Some groups have been trying to push that policy in this country for the past 15 years, but the DOT never took part in the campaign openly.
With the change in administration, however, it seems the DOT now is taking the lead in backing that policy.
Word goes around that somebody brilliant in the DOT actually ordered the top management of hotels to organize themselves into a group to lobby for the policy.
All they have to do is, well, they need to write a letter to the genius calling for the adoption of the policy. In a way, it is a “petition.”
All the genius would do is, well, he will endorse the letter to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
What a scheme! And schemer! No wonder some in the hotel sector now call him “the engineer.”
NOBODY in the hotel business could as yet say whether or not the genius in DOT only wanted to use the top hotels to advance the interest of foreign airlines here.
But his selling point for the scheme was, well, it would be good for business for the hotels, since “open skies policy” would be good for tourism.
Now the policy has created a spat between its supporters and local airlines for the past several years.
You see, based on figures from the Bureau of Immigration, the number of arrivals from abroad at the Naia airport averaged some 13 million people a year for sometime now.
And how many of them were tourists? Well, according to DOT figures, the number of tourist arrivals was only three million last year.
There, we already have the airlines seats for some 13 million passengers. More than 13 million seats were already available for the so-called tourists.
Yet tourists did not account for even a fourth of the airport arrival figure.
I am not a genius but I think that tourism does not live on commercial flights alone. It is more about the interest of visitors in the destination.
Really, whenever a person plans for a holiday, his first move is not to look for the most number of flights of the most number of airlines to a certain place.
He chooses a destination, to start with, and then he chooses the airline that will take him there. Not the other way around, OK?
And so let us stop the BS about tourism as the main reason in pushing for a policy that is only good for foreign airlines.