Department of Tourism (DOT) Philippines

Across the sprawling 7,600+ islands of the Philippines, the Department of Tourism (DOT) shines as a symbol of advancement and cultural representation, guiding and enhancing the nation’s rich heritage and diverse landscapes. Its services and assistance have far-reaching impacts not just within the country’s borders but also across the global stage where it represents the nation’s vibrant spirit and rich heritage. The DOT is not just a governmental body; it is a pivotal force driving the Philippines toward a future bright with potential and prosperity.

As the caretaker of the country’s image and the promoter of its diverse destinations, the DOT plays a crucial role in crafting the narrative of the Philippines as a must-visit location, brimming with natural wonders, historical treasures, and warm, welcoming people. Its endeavors are instrumental in not only boosting the economy through tourism but also in fostering cultural exchange and understanding, making it a significant contributor to the country’s development and the empowerment of the Filipino people.

Understanding the Department of Tourism

History and Establishment

Early Beginnings:

  • In 1950, the journey to promote the Philippines as a prime tourism destination began with the formation of the Philippine Tourist & Travel Association (PTTA), a private initiative.
  • By 1956, the government established the Board of Travel and Tourist Industry (BTTI) through Congress, marking its initial direct involvement in tourism affairs.
  • The Department of Trade and Tourism (DTT) was formed in 1972, reorganizing the Department of Commerce and Industry, which set the stage for a more structured approach to tourism.

Formal Establishment:

  • 1973 saw a significant milestone with President Marcos issuing Presidential Decree No. 189, creating the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) as a distinct governmental entity.
  • Fast forward to 1987, the MOT was reorganized into what we now know as the Department of Tourism (DOT) under Executive Order No. 120.


  • The DOT’s role became more pronounced in 1998 during the centennial celebration of Philippine independence, showcasing the country’s rich cultural heritage.
  • 2003 was a landmark year with the launch of the “WOW Philippines” campaign under Secretary Richard J. Gordon, significantly boosting the country’s tourism profile.
  • The passage of Republic Act No. 9593, or the Tourism Act of 2009,” further defined the DOT’s mandate and structure, setting a new direction for its future endeavors.
  • Today, the DOT continues its mission, facing modern challenges like sustainability and infrastructure development while promoting Philippine tourism.

Mission and Vision


  • The DOT is committed to encouraging, promoting, and developing tourism as a major socio-economic activity, aiming to generate foreign currency and local employment while ensuring the benefits of tourism are widespread across both the private and public sectors.


  • The vision is to position the Philippines as a world-class tourism destination. The department aims to develop a sustainable and inclusive tourism industry that benefits all Filipinos, reflecting the country’s natural beauty, cultural richness, and warm hospitality.

Structure and Functioning


  • At the helm is the Secretary of Tourism, appointed by the President, guiding the department towards achieving its goals.
  • The DOT is structured into four core sectors: Tourism Development Planning, Tourism Marketing and Promotions, Tourism Regulation and Accreditation, and Tourism Education and Training.


  • Its functions are comprehensive and varied: from developing national tourism development plans and strategies to promoting the Philippines both domestically and internationally.
  • The department sets standards and regulates tourism establishments and services, ensuring quality and safety for all visitors.
  • Through research, training, and education, it continually enhances the skills and knowledge of tourism professionals.
  • A significant part of its role involves coordinating with local government units and private sector stakeholders, ensuring a collaborative approach to tourism development.

In understanding the Department of Tourism, we see a journey of growth, adaptation, and persistent effort to showcase the Philippines as a premier global destination. The DOT’s rich history, clear mission and vision, and structured approach reflect its pivotal role in the nation’s socio-economic development and cultural preservation.

Key Roles and Responsibilities of DOT

Promoting the Philippines as a Top Tourist Destination

The Department of Tourism (DOT) plays a pivotal role in elevating the Philippines as a premier travel destination. Employing strategic marketing and branding initiatives, the DOT has launched compelling global campaigns like “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” and the vibrant “Love the Philippines.” These efforts are amplified through participation in international travel fairs, collaborations with influencers, and familiarization trips that showcase the country’s diverse offerings from pristine beaches and majestic mountains to rich historical sites and cultural experiences.

The DOT’s robust online presence, particularly through the “Philippines.Travel” website, serves as a comprehensive portal offering travel information, itinerary suggestions, and booking options. They adeptly target specific markets and niche tourism areas such as diving, ecotourism, and adventure travel to attract a wide range of visitors.

Department of Tourism (DOT)
Screengrab of the homepage

Note: As of this writing, the website is under maintenance so some services could not be accessed properly. 

Cultural Preservation and Promotion

In its quest to preserve and promote the nation’s cultural heritage, the DOT provides support for a plethora of festivals and events like Ati-Atihan, Dinagyang, and Sinulog, which illuminate the vibrant ethnic traditions of the Philippines. By promoting both well-known and lesser-known cultural events, the department encourages deep cultural immersion and authentic experiences for tourists.

The DOT’s commitment extends to protecting heritage sites in collaboration with various government agencies and cultural groups. This includes conserving historical landmarks and indigenous communities while educating tourists on responsible cultural interaction. Furthermore, they champion local arts and crafts, supporting artisan communities and promoting their work through fairs, exhibits, and online platforms, thus contributing to local economic development.

Tourism Infrastructure Development

Understanding the critical role of infrastructure in tourism, the DOT collaborates with the Department of Transportation to enhance airport facilities, expand connectivity, and improve road infrastructure leading to key tourist spots. They identify and invest in potential tourism zones, ensuring sustainable development that benefits the environment and local communities. The promotion of public-private partnerships also encourages investment in resorts, hotels, and recreational facilities. Recognizing the technological era’s demands, the DOT is keen on promoting digital infrastructure, including online booking systems, mobile travel apps, and widespread Wi-Fi accessibility in tourist areas.

Regulations and Standards Enforcement

To maintain the Philippines’ reputation as a safe and quality destination, the DOT sets stringent regulations for tourism-related businesses. Through licensing and accreditation processes, they ensure that hotels, tour operators, and other service providers meet safety and quality standards. Accreditation serves as a badge of reliability for tourists seeking assured experiences.

Consumer protection is another critical area where the DOT establishes guidelines to address complaints and ensure fair treatment of tourists. They provide assistance through hotlines and online platforms, facilitating the resolution of issues. Moreover, the department is a staunch advocate for environmental protection, promoting sustainable tourism practices in collaboration with environmental agencies to preserve the country’s natural beauty.

Notable Initiatives and Programs

The Department of Tourism (DOT) of the Philippines has been at the forefront of promoting the nation’s cultural vibrancy and natural beauty through several groundbreaking initiatives and programs. These efforts are designed not just to showcase the Philippines as a prime tourist destination but also to ensure the sustainability and inclusivity of tourism growth. Here’s a closer look at some of these key initiatives:

“It’s More Fun in the Philippines” Campaign

Department of Tourism (DOT) Philippines
Credits: DOT

Launched in 2012, the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign has become a defining slogan for the country’s tourism. This successful marketing strategy utilized catchy phrases and engaging visuals that captured the essence of the Filipino spirit and the country’s picturesque landscapes, resonating deeply with a global audience.

Impact of the Campaign:

  • Increased Tourist Arrivals: The campaign was a catalyst for a tourism boom, with arrivals nearly doubling from 4.1 million in 2012 to 8.26 million in 2019.
  • Economic Boost: By 2019, tourism’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) soared to an estimated 21.1%, highlighting the sector’s significant role in the nation’s economy.
  • Brand Recognition: The slogan achieved global recognition, enhancing the Philippines’ reputation as a must-visit destination and setting a high bar for tourism marketing worldwide.

Community-Based Sustainable Tourism

With an understanding of the delicate balance between promoting tourism and preserving culture and the environment, the DOT has been a strong advocate for community-based sustainable tourism. This approach ensures that the benefits of tourism extend to local communities while safeguarding natural and cultural resources.

Key Aspects of the Initiative:

  • Supporting Community Projects: Through initiatives like “One Town, One Product,” the DOT encourages communities to develop unique offerings, thereby creating sustainable livelihoods and unique visitor experiences.
  • Promoting Responsible Tourism: The DOT campaigns for tourists to adopt practices that respect local culture, conserve resources, and minimize environmental impact.
  • Protecting Natural Resources: Efforts to establish marine protected areas and wildlife sanctuaries are among the various conservation strategies supported by the DOT, aiming to preserve the country’s natural beauty for future generations.


International Collaborations and Events

To further bolster the Philippines’ presence on the global stage, the DOT actively engages in international collaborations and events. These efforts not only showcase the Philippines’ offerings but also foster partnerships and cultural exchanges.

Examples of International Engagement:

  • Global Travel Fairs and Events: By participating in these gatherings, the DOT effectively presents the Philippines’ tourism offerings to an international audience, attracting potential visitors and investors.
  • Partnerships with Airlines and Travel Agencies: Collaborations with these entities help develop new travel packages and routes, making it more convenient for international tourists to explore the Philippines.
  • Hosting Major Events: The successful hosting of events like the Miss Universe pageant and the APEC Summit has placed the Philippines in the global limelight, demonstrating its capacity as a world-class host and further stimulating interest in its tourism sector.

Impact of DOT on the Philippine Economy and Society

Economic Contributions

  1. Job Creation: The Department of Tourism (DOT) has been instrumental in fostering employment across the archipelago. The burgeoning tourism sector propels job growth in diverse areas such as hospitality, transportation, retail, construction, and entertainment. For instance, in 2018, the industry directly supported an impressive 5.4 million jobs, accounting for 13% of the Philippines’ total employment. This synergy between tourism and employment indicates a vibrant sector that is a cornerstone for livelihoods, especially in areas heavily reliant on tourist influx.
  2. Economic Growth: Tourism’s contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are substantial. In 2018 alone, it directly accounted for 12.7% of the GDP. The financial inflows from tourism, including foreign currency and taxes, are vital for national and local economies. They facilitate infrastructure development, importation of goods, and enhancement of public services. Moreover, the circulation of income within local communities fosters broader economic diversification, particularly in rural areas where alternative income sources are invaluable.


Social and Cultural Impact

  1. Cultural Exchange: Tourism serves as a bridge between cultures, promoting a mutual exchange that enriches both visitors and hosts. This interaction fosters understanding, enhances national pride, and contributes to the preservation of the Filipino heritage. The influx of diverse perspectives through tourism also introduces innovative ideas, broadening the societal horizon and fostering a dynamic cultural landscape.
  2. Community Development: The ripple effects of tourism extend to significant enhancements in community infrastructure, education, and healthcare. Increased tourism revenues empower local governments to invest more in public services, thereby elevating the quality of life. Furthermore, the sector stimulates entrepreneurship, providing locals with opportunities to innovate in areas like handicrafts and culinary services. This not only leads to economic empowerment but also aids in poverty reduction by distributing income among communities traditionally marginalized.

However, while the economic and social benefits are clear, it’s crucial to navigate the challenges that come with tourism growth. Issues like environmental degradation, cultural appropriation, and uneven benefit distribution must be addressed. The DOT’s role, therefore, extends beyond promotion to ensuring that tourism development is sustainable, respectful, and inclusive. By adopting responsible tourism practices, the Philippines can continue to enjoy the economic and social benefits while preserving its natural and cultural treasures for future generations.

Video: “LOVE, The Philippines” a New Campaign Tourism Ad 2023

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