TOURISM Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco on Wednesday revealed that the Department of Tourism (DoT) has started implementing projects and programs to mark the Philippines as one of Asia’s most LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, and asexual plus) friendly destinations .
In a speech during the first-ever Pride Summit in Makati, Frasco noted the government’s initiatives focusing on “inclusive tourism development” to be able to capture a significant part of the 36 million LGBTQIA+ travelers worldwide.
“The Department of Tourism takes pride in having a multitude of numbers from your community across the tourism value chain in all of the regions of the Philippines–from its personnel, accommodation and services sector, from the frontline, managerial, supervisory, and upper echelons of the tourism industry, and even including the frontline tourism personnel in local government units, from the pasalubong makers, to choreographers, artistic directors, costume makers, festival dancers, various members of the Department of Tourism regional offices that are also members of the community, Frasco said.
“You are very well represented in the Department of Tourism and in the industry itself and your contribution to the success of tourism is invaluable,” she added.
The Secretary explained the Summit is just one among the many initiatives of the DOT to discuss challenges, experiences and solutions to make travel experience enjoyable and safe for the LGBTQIA+ community.
“Under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., he seeks for a tourism industry that is inclusive, where no destination and no stakeholder is left behind in the development of our country,” She said in her speech.
The Tourism Chief pointed out the importance of the LGBTQIA+ tourism which presents vast opportunities for growing the Philippine tourism industry portfolio.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, there are about 36 million LGBTQIA+ travelers worldwide valued at over US$200 billion.
“We recognize the strength of capitalizing on LGBTQIA+ tourism considering that it is a US$200 billion industry that’s only slated to grow at half a trillion dollar industry by 2030,” Frasco stressed.
Atty. Regal Oliva, the first transgender woman president of the Cebu Lady Lawyers Association, suggested an increased support for LGBTQIA+ led events to attract travelers and allow the communities to learn about their needs.
“The Philippines is a diverse nation and this diversity is its strength. By showcasing the LGBT experience, we send a powerful message to the world that the Philippines is a destination where all are welcome, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said.
Oliva added the DOT’s tourism branding “Love the Philippines” is timely as “it is only love that all can be achieved because love always wins.”
Frasco said the effort at the moment is to educate and bring awareness about the massive contribution of the LGBTQIA+ and the vast “opportunities the Philippines can gain by capitalizing on the opportunity to grow this niche market in global tourism.”
“Ang nais po nation ay hindi lang isang lugar sa Pilipinas ang maging open for the LGBTQIA+ tourism but many places in the Philippines. After all, we have 7,641 islands that can provide welcome and open destinations for them,” she added.
When Frasco was Mayor of Liloan in Cebu, she organized and federated the Liloan LGBTQ, making it the first town in Cebu to have a fully federated LGBT federation in all barangays.
She had also actively pursued programs and initiatives in support of the community, including the construction of a gender-equal comfort room at the municipal plaza.
“I share with you this story, if only to give you my assurances that the work that you have been doing for the past 10 years has resulted in the grass roots recognition and implementation of the necessity for LGBTQ+ equality, equity, and recognition,” she said.