The Department of Tourism (DOT) was focused on ensuring the sustainability, resiliency, and inclusiveness of the country’s tourism industry as the core of its recovery plan for 2022.
This was revealed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat during the deliberation of the Department’s proposed 2022 budget before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations on Friday, Sept. 3.
The DOT proposed P3.79 billion budget for the fiscal year 2022 for its plans and programs directed for the safe recovery of the sector.
According to Puyat, the DOT’s policy direction was focused on the reformulated National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) for 2016 to 2022 which has a three-pronged thrust to promote safe, fun, and competitive tourism; pursue sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism; and strengthen governance and destination management.
The DOT likewise updated the Tourism Response And Recovery Plan with the main objective of mitigating the impacts of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the tourism industry.
The tourism chief said this plan would ensure the protection of jobs and safety of tourism workers, visitors, and communities; support the recovery of tourism enterprises; and rebuild confidence and growing demand in domestic and foreign markets.
“Under the Tourism Standards and Enforcement Program, we shall continue to improve service standards, and restore confidence to travel, develop and enforce tourism standards that are at par with global best practices,” Puyat added.
The country’s tourism sector has been among the hardest hit by the ongoing health crisis due to travel restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19.
In May 2021, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported that the global travel industry suffered a decline of 72.9 percent in international visitor arrivals in 2020.
The Philippines registered a much steeper 82 percent slide from 8.26 million tourist arrivals in 2019 to just 1.48 million in 2020.
Since the start of the quarantine in mid-March last year, the Department has been focusing heavily on providing immediate response to those displaced by the pandemic.
“Despite the challenges and limitations in 2020 and 2021, the DOT has been relentless in its efforts to keep the tourism industry afloat while laying the groundwork for the industry’s recovery,” Puyat noted.
According to the DOT, it has so far conducted 352 trainings for industry stakeholders with a total of 19,871 participants as of August 26.
“During the industry’s downtime, we were able to reskill, upskill and retool the tourism stakeholders with the health and safety protocols and operations under a new normal environment,” Puyat said.
Aside from trainings, 44 new tourism circuits in addition to 71 that are still undergoing development to date were established by the Department.
“The DOT will continue to stay attuned to the ever-changing tourism trends and preferences of our domestic and foreign markets through continued product and market research,” Puyat assured.
“And as international borders start to open, the key, strategic and opportunity markets will continue to be engaged and green lanes explored in preparation for revenge travel that is expected to ensue,” she added.
“Despite the challenges and limitations in 2020 and 2021, the DOT has been relentless in its efforts to keep the tourism industry afloat while laying the groundwork for the industry’s recovery,” Puyat stressed.