CEBU, June 4 (PIA) -- With extremely large populations, the Philippines and China face the constant challenge of providing livelihood opportunities to uplift the lives of poor people as both nations see bright prospects in the growth of the tourism industry that could address the gap in poverty incidence.
Mr. Song Mingchang, former vice minister of the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA), said "culture and tourism play a vital role in poverty alleviation in China."
China is second to the Unites States as an economic giant in the world with a gross domestic product valued at 82.71 trillion yuan, while its total import and export of goods ranked first in the world at 4.1 trillion US dollars based on 2017 figures, Mingchang told Filipino journalists and information officers participating in the recent 2019 China 30 Media Program in Beijing.
Mingchang, however, said China's rapid development is not totally inclusive as there are still millions of Chinese who live in poverty, especially those residing in far-flung remote areas.
But in a span of 40 years, the number of impoverished Chinese nationals significantly fell from 770 million in 1978 to 30 million in 2017.
Mingchang attributed this to the government's implementation of large-scale poverty alleviation measures and the personal participation of President Xi Jinping to take time out every year to inspect the lives of poverty-stricken citizens.
"Even if more than 700 million people are lifted from poverty, making the lives of the poor people better is a top government priority," said Mingchang.
The Chinese government set a two-year timetable to eradicate poverty incidence as measures included the establishment of a ministerial office in poverty-stricken areas with financial support given to local governments for poverty alleviation programs and services.
Another strategy employed is making poverty-stricken areas a location shoot for movie and television films, showing off its beautiful landscapes and other natural attractions to entice tourists to visit these areas, said Mingchang.
State-owned media, under the NRTA, is also instructed to publicize the scenic spots in poor areas and promote these localities as tourist destinations.
Promoting these poor localities as countryside tourist destinations can help improve the economic condition and directly benefit the impoverished residents in said areas, said Mingchang.
Domestic tourism has never been more robust, as Mingchang said in 2017 alone, its total cost reached 4.5661 trillion yuan, registering a hike of 43.6 percent times over in 1994.
In the same year, domestic tourists reached 5 billion, an increase of about 8.5 percent times more compared in 1994.
In the Philippines, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat admitted that millions of lives depend on tourism as a source of livelihood during a keynote message of the Asia Pacific Tourism Annual (PATA) Summit 2019 in Cebu City last month.
Beyond employment generation, tourism is also a key component to achieving greater national development, said Puyat.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the tourism sector contributed 12.2 percent to the country's Gross Domestic Product in 2017, which is equivalent to PHP 1.929 trillion earnings, greatly boosting economic performance.
PSA also recorded that 13.1 percent of the country's total employment in 2017 was directly attributed to tourism, providing at least 5.3 million jobs to Filipinos.
The tourism industry's economic contribution is recognized as an enabler to achieve the vision of a middle-class society 21 years from now under the Ambisyon Natin 2040 of the Duterte Administration. (fcr/pia7)