P35.7 B earmarked for tourism dev’t in 2021

The government has proposed P35.7 billion for its tourism development program, including a bounce-back aid for businesses engaged in tourism operations, under the P4.5-trillion national budget for next year.

According to President Duterte, the government recognizes the tourism industry creates job opportunities and will further "harness" such potential next year.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

"The employment generation potential of the tourism sector is well acknowledged -- and will be harnessed," Duterte said in a recent budget message to Congress.

"That is why we are investing some P35.7 billion for the promotion of the convergence program for tourism development to serve as a bouncing back fund for the Re-Start Up Program for MSMEs and community-organizations accredited by the Department of Tourism," he said.

The tourism industry is one of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic as the country and other nations enforced travel restrictions to avoid the spread of the illness.

The Tourism Congress of the Philippines had earlier estimated the tourism sector has suffered P190 billion in revenue losses since the start of the strict lockdown last March. The tourism receipts reportedly dropped to P6.9 billion from March to July, much lower from the P196 billion earnings in the same period last year.

The government has gradually eased the tourism restrictions in the larger part of the country in a bid to revitalize the sluggish economy and employment opportunities.

Tourism operations are allowed to resume at half capacity in modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) areas but must be subject to the rules and regulations of concerned local government units. These operations must also observe health measures as precaution against the coronavirus outbreak.

In areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) like Metro Manila, tourism activities are not yet allowed to operate. Travel agencies however may reopen at limited capacity.

Other areas under the relaxed GCQ are Bulacan, Batangas, Tacloban City, and Bacolod City. Iloilo City is the only placed under stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) while the rest of the country will stay under the least restrictive MGCQ until the end of September unless modified by President Duterte.