ORMOC CITY – Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, chairman of the House committee on tourism, has taken the lead of inviting potential investors in the coun-try’s tourism industry during the Smart Island World Congress held in Mallorca, Spain this April 24-26.

In a video posted by husband Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez of her speech, the pretty House representative quipped that the country need not be “invaded” by Spain again, but she is asking them to come with a heartfelt invitation.

“This time, there is no need for an invasion, please come with our heartfelt invitation,” she said, adding that she hoped to see them soon in the country. “Esperamos verte a todos en la Filipinas,” said the congresswoman in Spanish. Rep. Gomez and Mayor Rich-ard Gomez, known as one of the country’s “power couples,” were in the Smart Island World Congress to repre-sent the House and Ormoc City, respectively.

The Smart Island World Congress is a unique gath-ering of people from “smart islands” around the world, where experts and island representatives meet and share experiences on how to take on the challenges of managing islands in terms of efficiency, urban plan-ning, and social and eco-nomic development in the global era.

In her talk, Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez said that she was inviting the congress participants to give the Philippines a look. She said that the Philippines was “emerging as one of the ro-bust economies in the 21st-century” and that its GDP grew by 6.7 in 2017 and is expected to be sustained until 2020.She added that a lead contributor to the growth is the tourism industry, which “is growing faster than the general economy by 13.7 percent.”

Even so, she pointed out, the industry is still in its “infancy stage” and that “there is still a lot of room to grow.”

“For those of you who want to be in the right place and right time in your in-vestments, your destina-tion is the tourism industry in the Philippines,” she said, and showed a slide presentation of some of the country’s tourist spots. Among them, she said, were Mt. Mayon, Taal Vol-cano, Banawe Rice Terraces, Chocolate Hills, the beaches and Lake Danao in Ormoc City.

As tourism committee chairman, she added, she has also filed a bill in Con-gress which seeks to make the industry sustainable by developing the country’s human resource, especially those in the “bottom 20 per-cent,” to be tourism ready.

She said that while she was happy to note that leaders in the country has “become conscious about environmental steward-ship, climate change and building resiliency,” she also believes that the three pillars of sustainability which are “people, planet, and profit,” can only be attained when poverty is addressed.

If her bill is passed and approved, this will provide tourism related training to people even those who have not graduated from high school. “Skills taught will match the skills required,” she said, like frontline ser-vices. An added bonus, she added, is that Filipinos were naturally hospitable and spoke good English. “Eng-lish with a smile comes in abundance,” she said.

“We have world class natural resources which we have to match with quality world class service. When this has been achieved, all we have to worry about is how to sustain the growth having all the ingredients,” she said. Again, she said, “Come and invest in tourism in the Philippines.

We are open for business. In the grand scheme of things, we are but a small speck of the map of the world, but we are a diamond in the rough, waiting for our facets to be polished, waiting for our time to shine.”



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