By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Richard Gordon on Saturday called on the implementation of the Holiday Economics Law (Republic Act No. 9492) to help boost domestic tourism amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Citing statements from tourism experts that the impact of the new coronavirus on tourism could ripple into 2021, Gordon said it will be advantageous for the country to carry out the RA 9492 as governments, including the Philippines, implement travel restrictions due to COVID-19.
He said the law, enacted in 2007, helped local tourism industry when it was implemented.
“Domestic tourism thrived when it was implemented during the Arroyo administration. In 2018, domestic trips totaled 111,350,293 or an annual growth of 15.1 percent,” said Gordon, a former tourism secretary.
The Holiday Economics Act allows the rescheduling of regular holidays and national special holidays.
Under the law, if the holiday falls on a Wednesday, the holiday will be observed on the Monday of the week. If the holiday falls on a Sunday, the holiday will be observed on the Monday that follows: Provided, that for movable holidays, the President shall issue a proclamation, at least six months prior to the holiday concerned, the specific date that shall be declared as a nonworking day.
Gordon said the number of domestic trips could increase since the law would give people more time for travel around the country.
“It would also give families more time to spend together,” he added.
Aside from this, Gordon added that implementing the law would also open up more local business opportunities, especially if moving holidays would be announced in advance at the start of the year so that businessmen can prepare.
He recalled pushing for an increase in the 2020 budget of the Department of Tourism’s Regional Offices to boost local tourism.
Due to the COVID-19, the Philippines had earlier declared a temporary ban on tourists coming to and from China, as well as its special administrative regions HongKong and Macau, except overseas Filipino workers.
Just recently, the government also announced a ban on travelers from the coronavirus-hit North Gyeongsang province, in South Korea. It also suspended travel of Filipino tourists to South Korea.