DoT sees revival of foreign tourism arrivals in 2021 once border restrictions lifted

The Department of Tourism (DoT) projects the revival of foreign visitor arrivals in the country in 2021 once border restrictions have been eased. 

The DoT had earlier recorded a major slump in foreign visitor arrivals this year, generating only about P81 billion tourism revenue from January to July triggered mainly by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In an interview aired over DZBB Super Radyo, Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said once travel barriers are lifted, the DoT will start engaging its top tourist markets like South Korea, China, Japan, and the United States to kickstart the revival of the tourism industry. 

The move is included in the Tourism Response and Recovery Program (TRRP) which serves as a masterplan for the recovery of the tourism industry in the next two to three years. 

But Bengzon noted that this would only materialize if the industry will be given proper financial intervention as many tourism enterprises are now feared to collapse due to massive losses. 

The DoT and other private stakeholders are currently fighting for its supposed P10 billion financial aid under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Bayanihan 2 measure, which has been realigned to fund tourism infrastructure development. 

The sector decried the decision from the lawmakers and is now appealing to the bicameral conference committee to reconsider the amendments made in line with their needs. 

Among the focus areas of TRRP include the continued assistance to tourists affected by the implementation of quarantine protocols and capacity-building for tourism workers though reskilling and up-skilling trainings and implementation of measures that support the needs of destinations and businesses in the “new normal" which includes ensuring that  tourism destinations comply with global safety and sanitation standards.

“What we have to take note is that the multiplier effect of tourism is fast. If we give our tourism stakeholders the proper intervention, they will also help the economy because the trickle down effect is also fast, as well as the spread of benefits in tourism,” Bengzon said in Filipino. 

The Tourism Undersecretary also said that the shift to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) of some local destinations will also help the revival of domestic tourism economy. 

He said despite the rainy season, the DoT will continue to ramp up its efforts to encourage local travelers to visit the destinations again. 

The recent Philippine Travel Survey Report revealed that 77 percent of Filipinos expressed willingness to travel domestically even in the absence of a proven vaccine.

Among the top travel activities that emerged in the survey are visiting beach destinations and going on road trips, with Boracay, Siargao, and Baguio City as the top choices. 

He said many respondents expressed optimism in traveling as the five-month lockdown had caused anxiety to them.

With this, the DoT wants to ensure that all its concerned stakeholders will receive the financial assistance to carry out the plans.

“The instruction of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is make sure that tourism stakeholders will recover again,” he said. 

According to Bengzon, the DoT recorded about 109 million domestic trips in 2019.