DOT releases over P100-M in funds to support 'smart tourism' projects in PH

The Department of Tourism (DOT), through its marketing arm, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) has so far disbursed over P100 million to support the projects of destinations that have vowed to focus on "smart tourism" in the country.

THEY’RE BACK – Tourists ride boats at Burnham Park in Baguio City amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. (Zaldy Comanda)

Data from the TPB showed that it has downloaded a total of P111,653,600 to several local government units (LGUs) as of June 2021 for the implementation of digital transformation projects.

According to the TPB, these projects include the development of the VISITA platform, which is an online visitor management and monitoring system. The projects also include the development of local tourism websites, mobile applications, and digital marketing tools.

In a statement on Wednesday, June 14, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat emphasized the "crucial role" that digital innovations play in the recovery of the country's tourism industry amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

"Not only do they improve the efficiency of business operations, and promotions, they also allow for a safer environment through contactless transactions, virtual meetings, and visitor registration and monitoring," Puyat explained.

Baguio City pioneered the development and deployment of the VISITA app in October last year and was followed by Ilocos, Pangasinan, Central and Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and Metro Manila. The provinces of Bohol, Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, Quirino, and Zambales have also adopted it.

Other LGUs that are now using the VISITA app include the cities of Bacolod, Davao, Dumaguete, Iloilo, and Tuguegarao, and the towns of Agoncillo, El Nido, and Pasil.

A recent output of the funding is the launch of Oriental Mindoro's tourism website and mobile application called "Lakbay Oriental Mindoro" last July 8. It serves as a digital travel guide to the province's tourist destinations.

Aside from these online platforms, the DOT through the TPB has also funded various programs focused on securing health and safety and restoring confidence in domestic travel such as the subsidized COVID-19 swab testing for qualified tourists.

The TPB funding also extends to programs that uphold sustainable initiatives and responsible travel, such as community immersion and interaction, which are non-exploitative and not staged; slow food, and slow travel concepts that provide added value to travelers, farm-to-table activities, and health and wellness activities.