PRESIDENT Beningo Aquino III said Tuesday that government might attain this year half of the 10-million target tourist arrivals for 2016. With this, the Chief Executive urged businessmen who were present in the Philippine Business Forum in Makati City to invest in the tourism sector since this is one of the sectors that will have the largest impact on the economy.

He cited that for January alone, the Philippines welcomed more than 400,000 visitors, the highest monthly visitor count in the country’s history.

“And if we can sustain this, we are set to welcome almost 4.8 million visitors this year. This is really close — or this is very close — to five million,” he said.

The government is eyeing 4.6 million foreign tourists to visit the country for 2012.

“We are still quite a way from our target of 10 million yearly visitors by 2016. But imagine: two years ago we were expecting only about three million visitors a year; and now there is the possibility of welcoming five million,” Aquino said.

“We still have four years and three months left to reach our target and we know that, each year, we can grow our number of visitors closer and closer to our goal,” he added.

The Department of Tourism has been aggressively promoting the country with the recent launching of campaign slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” and partnering with other government agencies to make the country safer and better haven for tourists.

In the same forum, the President said the other sectors where businessmen could pour in their resources include agriculture and infrastructure.

“I have always maintained that our farmers should be given enough incentive to do their jobs well. Right now, while our farmers account for 33 percent of total employment, they only account for 13 percent of gross domestic product. This isn’t right; and our administration fully intends to increase farmer productivity and help facilitate the trade of their produce,” he said.

He added that the government’s target to be rice self-sufficient by 2013 remains.

On the infrastructure sector, Aquino said that on the projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) alone, many projects have already been bidded out.

He said the DPWH has bidded out nearly 90 percent of its 2,128 projects worth P63 billion this year.

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