Tourism chief fails to introduce PNoy due to traffic

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2014 08:28 PM | Updated as of Jul 10 2014 05:37 AM

MANILA (UPDATED) - President Benigno Aquino on Wednesday stayed quiet regarding his unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in his first public speech since the high court struck down the DAP.

Aquino was in a jovial mood as he graced the opening of a hotel in Ortigas Center, choosing instead to talk about the gains of the economy and tourism industry in his speech.

The President even opened with humor -- a response to the joke of event host Johnny Litton on Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez.

Litton poked fun at Jimenez, who he said was checking if it's more fun on EDSA-- a jab at the Tourism Department's "It's more fun in the Philippines" slogan.

Aquino said in jest that Jimenez is indeed checking out if EDSA is more fun.

He also cracked a joke about the hotel’s owner. "For those who might not be aware, Mr. Po is the man behind one of the most successful diaper brands in our country—and I am, in one hand apologetic for not being your client and on the other hand, glad that I am not your client (laughter)— namely, EQ diapers."

Jimenez was supposed to introduce the President before his speech.

Traffic, however, made the tourism chief miss the speech, with the chore of introducing Aquino being filled in by Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares.

In his speech, Aquino talked about the economic landscape changed under his administration.

“The economic landscape of our country has indeed changed dramatically. Even before our administration took office, we had already identified the massive promise of tourism. After all, our country has some of the most breathtaking natural gifts in the world—from the majestic landscape of Batanes up north, to the pristine beaches in the Sulu archipelago down south, whose tourism potential we can hopefully harness in the foreseeable future as peace dawns in the region,“ he said.

He also underscored the gains and new targets for the tourism industry.

“The results have been clear: Over the past four years, the number of tourists—both domestically ad internationally—has increased dramatically. For instance, in 2011, we recorded 37.5 million domestic travelers, which surpassed our original target for—not 2011—but 2016. Perhaps I can emphasize: we surpassed our original target for 2016 five years ahead of time," Aquino said. "Now, we have chosen to aim higher, setting our new 2016 target at 56.1 million domestic travelers. The number of international tourists has steadily increased as well, going from an average of around three million a year to 4.68 million last 2013—and we remain committed to pursuing our 2016 goal of 10 million international tourists.”

The President didn't hold any media interviews and left immediately after the event.