You may have noticed the schedule of the next big sale at the mall. But you may not have noticed that on 12 May 2009, the President signed the Tourism Act of 2009 (Republic Act No. 9593; full text). We have a prior discussion on Philippine tourism, so it’s surprising that we missed discussing this related law. But let’s make up for it by having this long series of discussions on RA 9593, also known as the Tourism Act of 2009.
This law emphasizes “tourism as an indispensable element of the national economy and an industry of national interest and importance, which must be harnessed as an engine of socio-economic growth and cultural affirmation to generate investment, foreign exchange and employment, and to continue to mold an enhanced sense of national pride for all Filipinos.”
The Department of Tourism (DOT), under this law, is reorganized and given considerable sources of funding to achieve its designated mandate and functions, which includes increasing tourist access. Certain areas are to be designated as Tourism Enterprise Zones (TEZ) and incentives are given to covered tourism enterprises.
There are contrasting reactions to this law. The government maintains that the new law “makes that Philippine tourism more globally competitive” (PIA release and OP report). Reports say that “tourism remains brightest hope of RP economy” and that this new law shall serve “as a big boost to Philippine tourism” (PhilStar). Certain sectors, like the PCCI, lauded the enactment of this law. On the other hand, other sectors argue that the “reclassification of lands for tourism means only one thing for rural families: the large-scale physical and economic displacement of farmers and fisherfolk communities” (IBON). Some say that the “Tourism Act of 2009 propagates the culture that the means and end is money and profit”.
So, to make one’s own judgment, perhaps we should better understand this new law. This is the reason for this primer, broken down as follows: