Philippine tourism hobbled by poor services, weak infrastructure

Philippine tourism hobbled by poor services, weak infrastructure
A beach in Boracay, Philippines.

MANILA - Despite its abundance of world-class scenic resources, the Philippines is struggling to attract more foreign tourists. Poor airline service and underdeveloped infrastructure are seen as the biggest culprits and are testing the government's commitment to its goal of raising the country's profile as an international travel destination.

About 4 million people visited the Southeast Asian country in the first 10 months of 2014, well short of the government's annual target of 6.8 million.

The travel woes experienced by a Japanese businessman during the latest Christmas season offer clues to why the Philippine tourism industry is in a rut.

The man, who works for a major Japanese manufacturer, caught a Philippine Airlines flight to Boracay, an island resort in the central Philippines blessed with stunning white sand beaches. He arrived at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) early for his flight, which was scheduled for the morning. Due to overbooking, however, he was forced to wait for an afternoon flight, causing him to reach his hotel on Boracay at night, hours behind schedule.

"There is no point in complaining," said the man, who is no stranger to such hassles in the Philippines.

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