DOT to spend P6B to boost domestic travel following virus threat
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Wednesday said it would shell out P6 billion to boost domestic tourism, following the scare caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a press conference, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that DOT would spend the amount, called the tourism resiliency program, for “international and domestic promotions, infrastructure, and regional tourism development.”
The fund will come from a “combined pool of resources that have been allocated by the DOT-attached agencies,” said DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon.
Previously, it was reported that the country would lose P42.9 billion in tourism revenue from January to April of 2020.
The DOT chief said that the department aimed to boost domestic travel since inbound arrivals have “expectedly” decreased because of the virus threat.
Of the P6 billion, P421 billion will be spent to develop a new campaign for domestic travel, P467 million will be reallocated to create engaging content that will resonate with emerging countries unaffected by COVID-19.
P725 million has been allocated for tactical programs, conducting and participation of international events and market development initiatives worldwide.
P2.2 billion is earmarked for infrastructure development and expansion, while P1.6 billion for the night rating of secondary airports.
The DOT secretary also said that P85 million would be spent on the training of industry stakeholders for COVID-19 orientation, preparedness, response and protocol.
P400 million, meanwhile, will be spent to aid local government units in developing their own tourism masterplan.
41% drop in tourist arrivals
Because of the COVID-19 scare, the country has also seen a 41.4 percent drop in tourist arrivals, Romulo-Puyat revealed.
Citing data from the Bureau of Immigration, the tourism secretary said: “For January 2019 to 2020, there was actually a 9.8 percent increase. But if you compare February 2019 to February 2020, there was a 41.4 percent decrease in tourism arrivals.”
As for occupancy rates, Romulo-Puyat that there was a 40 percent decrease in Boracay, 27 percent decrease in Cebu, 40 percent decrease in Bohol.
Tourism Congress of the Philippines president Jose Clemente III added that because of the COVID-19 scare, the tourism industry is already “bleeding.”
“It has not spared any of us in the industry, whether you’re one of the small companies or one of the bigger tour operators or hotels,” Clemente said. “In fact, not to exaggerate, we’re bleeding.”
Clemente added that the businesses affected by the coronavirus threat are doing their best to “survive” and “pulling out all the stops.”
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