Mayor Francis N. Tolentino Highlights Promotion and Development of Tourism in Tagaytay City, Philippines
By Kay Scrimger
June 23, 2003
Mayor Francis N. Tolentino of Tagaytay City, Philippines and President of the League of Cities of the Philippines, presented a case study of public-private cooperation to promote tourism at the Saturday Business Council Breakfast in Denver.
In the Philippines, tourism accounts for almost 9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and generates about five million jobs. Tagaytay City is one of the country's prime tourist destinations because of its scenic beauty, location near Metro Manila, and the quality of its hotels and other amenities.
Tolentino pointed out that the development of public-private partnerships at the national and local level in the Philippines has been helpful in promoting and developing tourism.
The Tagaytay City Tourism Office has an overall staff of 12 within the city hall and an additional 165 people, distributed among the convention center, hotels, and parks owned an operated by the city government. The office has close ties with more than 200 privately-owned businesses and tourist establishments within the city.
The City Tourism Office coordinates with the Tagaytay Tourism Council, a group that arose from the private business establishments devoted to tourism. Both the City Tourism Office and the Tagaytay Tourism Council promote tourism at the local, national, and international levels.
"Together these two agencies work on issues and matters relating to how the city of Tagaytay may be further developed into one of the Philippines' major tourism destinations and formulate and design specific programs and activities directed towards the achievement of this end," Tolentino said.
The city government and the Tourism Council cooperate on a number of activities, including the annual Pineapple Festival, clean up drives and environmental protection campaigns, formulation and development of an ecotourism plan, the "5S Cleanup Week" for systematizing and managing waste products produced in the workplace, the Tagaytay City of Character Program, and the Character First Business Seminar.
"The City of Tagaytay has spearheaded a number of innovative, income-generating projects/programs throughout the city. To date, the city government owns and operates three hotels, three public parks, one hospital, and one conference center.
"The biggest project is the recent construction and operation of the Tagaytay International Convention Center and the Tagaytay Character Convention Hotel, which opened in November 2002. The Tagaytay International Convention Center is the first of its kind in the Philippines a state-of-the-art convention center owned and operated by a local government unit," Tolentino said.
In partnership with a private firm, the conference center and lodging facility were built and funded through bond floatation. They are operated at present by another private management and marketing firm. The General Manager for both the convention center and hotel is an employee of the private firm, with the 54-person staff hired and paid by the city government.
The city council formulates and determines the operating guidelines and policies for the International Convention Center and the Convention Hotel. The city will pay an annual return of about 42 million pesos for seven years, and ultimately will have full ownership of the center and hotel.
According to Tolentino, his experience in Tagaytay City illustrates that benefits from public-private partnerships in tourism development for both the city government, the private sector, and citizens include:
- The exchange of technology, expertise, knowledge, institutional connections, and resources;
- Improvement of products and services in the tourism industry;
- Development of broader networks of public-private cooperation; and
- Increased tourism and economic growth in his city.