MANILA – The tourism industry is seen as the next growth driver of the Philippines, an economist said.
Cayetano Paderanga, an economics professor at the University of the Philippines, said that aside from revenues from business process outsourcing (BPO) and remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFW), the country's tourism sector has the potential to drive economic growth.
"There’s no other place to go but up, and now we have the money to invest in the infrastructure. I hope we can do that, we can actually continue to build on the infrastructure,” he told ANC on Thursday.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) set a target of attracting 8.2 million foreign visitors this year, and 10 million for 2016.
Paderanga said the country's comparative advantage is not yet clear, and merely lies on the soft skills of its workers, which helps BPO employees, OFWs, and workers in the hospitality industry find jobs.
"It's not only because of English, it's more of what we Filipinos call malasakit, empathy," the economist said.
“This is clearly one very strong area for us, and this could become a base, that’s why I think tourism would be the most logical next step,” he added.
BPO revenues is projected to outpace OFW remittances by 2016, as more Filipinos opt to stay in the country.
“The reason why OFW remittances have plateaued is a lot of our people are just staying inside because the employment is here, the uprooting is less,” Paderanga said.
He added that the BPO industry will continue to flourish but the sector should look out for "red flags" on the social side.
“You have many yuppies, many of the youth will have their own wherewithal, families will become more independent, they might have broken families. There are a lot of social side effects that are quite difficult, that we will have to adjust to," he said.