DOT pushes through with campaign to encourage more domestic tourists
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - March 10, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is pushing through with its domestic tourism campaign despite the confirmed local transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), emphasizing the need to continue to tourism activity to support the employment generated by the industry.

Over the weekend, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the local transmission of COVID-19. As of yesterday, there are 10 confirmed cases in the country.

“The instruction of DOT Secretary Bernadette Puyat is to push for domestic tourism so that the establishments are able to operate at a viable level,” Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon said.

He emphasized that the push for domestic tourism will help hotels, resorts and restaurants sustain their operations, as well as support individuals employed by the tourism industry.

Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the tourism industry registered a total of 5.4 million jobs in 2018, 1.8 percent higher than the 5.3 million posted the previous year.

The DOT along with other tourism stakeholders earlier announced a focus on domestic tourism, as foreign arrivals are expected to drop due to the temporary travel bans on China and its Special Administrative Region Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the North Gyeongsang province of South Korea.

Data from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) shows that foreign arrivals in February have already dropped 41.4 percent to 418,126 arrivals from 713,394 arrivals in the same month last year.

As part of the push for domestic tourism, Bengzon said that airlines have already began rolling out discounted airfares for domestic destinations.

“To further propel domestic tourism, DOT-accredited hotels and resorts will be lowering their prices anywhere from 30-70 percent of their published and online rates in order to be more competitive with our neighboring Southeast asian countries,” Bengzon said.

“Our accredited tour operators will also be giving up to 70 percent discount on domestic tour packages,” he added.

Bengzon emphasized that the DOT will continue to follow advisories coming from the DOH.

Moreover, Bengzon said the DOT will be conducting a study for possible adoption of measures implemented by other countries to provide relief to tourism businesses and workforce.

Last week, the DOT announced that it has allocated P6 billion for measures to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 on the tourism sector, which will be  international and domestic promotions, infrastructure and regional tourism development.

Of the funding, P421 million will be used to develop a new campaign for domestic travel, while P467 million will be allocated for the creation of engaging content that will resonate with emerging markers unaffected by COVID-19.

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