By Analou De Vera
The Department of Tourism (DOT) urged Filipinos to prioritize visiting the different destinations in the country once the quarantine restrictions brought about by the coronavirus disease pandemic are lifted.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said the domestic tourism will “initiate the movement” for the recovery of the country’s tourism industry once the pandemic is over.
“We believe that for the rest of the year, what will really trigger the activities would be the domestic tourism,” said Bengzon during a televised press briefing on Friday.
“Siguro ito na rin ang isa nating kailangan i-appeal sa ating mga kababayan na once we are given that green light…unahin natin ang domestic tourism para matulungan natin yung mga… let’s say mga restaurants and resorts na nagsara at walang revenue for the last [few] months,” he added.
[We need to appeal to the public that once we are given that green light … Let’s put domestic tourism first so we can help those … let’s say restaurants and resorts that have closed and don’t have revenue for the last [few] months.]
Bengzon said that the international tourist arrivals have decreased by 35 percent from the first three months of this year and that they only generated P85 billion.
“Ang estimate namin siguro from January to March of this year baka nasa P85 billion lang ang na generate natin compared to the P134 billion for the first three months of last year,” he said.
[We estimate that from January to March of this year we only generated about P85 billion compared to the P134 billion for the first three months of last year.]
“So, malaki talaga ang impact nito but syempre alam naman natin na hindi lang dito sa Pilipinas ang impact ng pandemic,” he added.
[So, the impact is huge, but of course we know that the pandemic’s impact is not just here in the Philippines.]
Bengzon said that they already laid out their response and recovery plans to help the tourism stakeholders affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is basically our master plan for tourism to help it rebound in the midst of pandemic. Basically ang pinaka pakay nitong Tourism response recovery program matulungan yung mga business enterprises at saka yung mga workers na na displaced because of this pandemic,’ he said.
[This is basically our master plan for tourism to help it rebound in the midst of the pandemic. Basically the purpose of this tourism response recovery program is to help business enterprises and workers displaced by this pandemic.]
Bengzon said that they are planning to set aside P43 billion to help various businesses in the tourism industry to recover.
“So, doon sa initial computation na ginawa namin, siguro out of the P43 billion that will be allocated to us, siguro kulang-kulang mga P36 billion will go to yung working capital,” he said.
[Based on our initial computation, out of the P43 billion that will be allocated to us, about P36 billion will go to the working capital.]
The Tourism official said that based on the initial consultation that they had with the stakeholders, the latter aired that their huge concern was survival and business continuity.
“So specifically, ang kailangan nilang tulong is yung in terms of working capital [and] wage subsidy,” said Bengzon.
[So specifically, what they need is in terms of working capital [and] wage subsidy.]
“Kailangan makaahon, makatayo itong mga tour operators, travel agencies, yung ibang tourism enterprises dahil sila ang katulong natin na magpro-promote, mag-ma-market ng Pilipinas,” he added.
[The tour operators, travel agencies, and other tourism enterprises need to recover because they are helping us to promote and market the Philippines.]#