More than 22,000 tourism workers from Bulacan and Baguio City who were displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have received much-needed financial aid or “ayuda” from the national government.
Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said P83.7 million worth of aid was given to 16,756 displaced workers in Bulacan, while 6,131 tourism workers in Baguio City received P30.6 million in financial assistance.
Each beneficiary received a one-time cash assistance of P5,000 under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, Puyat said.
The distribution of cash aid in Baguio City followed the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) approval of a P156.4-million cash assistance fund intended for 31,273 tourism workers in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
The amount will cover workers from 774 establishments and organizations in the region, including people who have applied for the cash aid individually.
Meanwhile, the tourism chief recognized 1,814 workers from 34 tourism-related enterprises and community-based tourism organizations in Bulacan during the distribution.
As of May 26, Bulacan has 62 existing and newly-accredited accommodation establishments, 55 of which are operational.
Puyat disclosed that in order to safely reopen the province for tourism, the agency is providing technical assistance to ecotourism sites in the province like the Biak-na-Bato National Park.
The agency has also been developing tourism circuits and packages such as the eco-cultural-historical circuit in Pampanga and Bulacan as well as the river adventure in San Rafael and Calumpit, Bulacan. Online learning sessions and training workshops for industry stakeholders are also being held.
In CAR, the agency is also implementing a number of recovery programs that aim to prepare stakeholders for the return of a more resilient tourism industry. These include an ecotourism biking circuit; a nature, wellness and healing circuit; a World War 2 historical caravan; a pilgrimage tour; slow food and culinary circuits; and farm tourism.
So far, 10 of the 215 DOT-accredited accommodation establishments in Baguio City have already been awarded the Safe Travels Stamp of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which indicates that global health standardized protocols in sanitation and hygiene are being observed.
“For these and our other programs to succeed, we are counting on the full support, cooperation, and commitment of our fellow government agencies, our partners in local government and the private sector, and the local community. By being united, and working hand in hand, there is so much that we can do and accomplish,” Puyat said.