By Analou De Vera
The Department of Tourism (DOT) announced on Wednesday that it will be allocating about P6 billion to boost the country’s tourism industry, particularly on the domestic aspect, amid the threat of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“To strengthen this private-public partnership initiative, the DOT will be allocating approximately P6 billion that will span international and domestic promotions, infrastructure, and regional tourism development,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat in a press briefing in Makati City.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said that the figure is a “combined pool of the resources that have been allocated by the DOT-attached agencies for supporting tourism development and promotion efforts.”
Bengzon said the amount covers a wide range of interventions, particularly on infrastructure, training, market development, and branding.
“The idea behind it is to make sure that we have adequate resources to mount such a campaign to help mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19. Secondly, to make sure that the convergence with partner agencies becomes even stronger,” he said.
According to Puyat, the figure will be spent on the following:
• P421 million to develop a new campaign for domestic travel;
• P725 million for tactical programs, conducting and participation of international events and market development initiatives worldwide;
• P467 million has been reallocated to create engaging content that will resonate with our emerging countries unaffected by COVID-19;
• The DOT will waive the participation fees for international travel and trade fairs from Feb. 17 to June 30 which will amount to P11.2 million, which is direct support to the private sector;
• P1.6 billion for the night rating of secondary airports under the iLIPAD Program;
• P85 million for the training of industry stakeholders on COVID-19 preparedness, response, and protocols;
• P400 million to aid local government units (LGUs) to develop their own tourism master plans; and
• P2.280 billion for resilient infrastructure developments and expansions to be identified and coordinated with LGUs.
“The DOT’s new direction is to boost domestic tourism now that inbound arrivals have expectedly decreased and with several temporary travel bans in place,” said Puyat.
“From our end, the DOT has identified and is working on strategic approaches to arrest the negative effects caused by this global health scare,” she added.
The Tourism chief reiterated that it is safe to travel in the different tourist destinations of the Philippines.
“The Department of Health’s current data would show that travelling around the country remains safe, highlighting the fact that we don’t have any local transmissions,” said Puyat.
“[The] DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) stated that there is nothing to panic about. Our local government units have been briefed and are ready. The DILG is now working on establishing protocols down to the barangay level,” she added.
Puyat added that the strict protocols are in place, particularly in the cleanliness of the country’s various airports, including the sanitation of the airplanes.