“To strengthen this private-public partnership initiative, the DOT will be allocating approximately P6 billion that will span international and domestic promotions, infrastructure and regional tourism development,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said at a press conference yesterday.
STAR/ File
DOT allocates P6 billion for measures vs COVID-19
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is allocating P6 billion for measures that will help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the tourism sector, which will strengthen the continued cooperation between the public and private sectors amid the global health emergency.

“To strengthen this private-public partnership initiative, the DOT will be allocating approximately P6 billion that will span international and domestic promotions, infrastructure and regional tourism development,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said at a press conference yesterday.

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 countries unaffected by COVID-19.

Both the DOT and other tourism stakeholders earlier announced they would focus on the domestic tourism market, with foreign arrivals expected to be affected by the temporary travel ban imposed on China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau due to COVID-19.

Based on data from the Bureau of Immigration (BI), foreign arrivals in February dropped 41.4 percent to 418,126 from 713,394 arrivals in the same month last year.

Puyat had earlier said that the projected forgone revenue due to the travel ban was P14.8 billion for February. Figures of actual losses during the month have yet to be released.

Apart from the international and domestic promotions efforts, Puyat said P725 million would be allocated for tactical programs, conducting and participation at international events and market development initiatives worldwide.

“For our direct support to the private sector, the DOT will waive the participation fees for international travel and trade fairs from Feb. 17 to June 30, amounting to P11.2 million,” she added.

This could also be extended until December, depending on the COVID-19 situation, according to the tourism chief.

DOH’s P2 billion budget request

With the changes in the committee leadership of the House of Representatives, the Department of Health (DOH) is reiterating its request for the allocation of some P2 billion that will be used to combat the COVID-19.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they would write the House about pending proposals to earmark the budget for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs) that will be used by health workers attending to confirmed and suspected cases of the COVID-19.

“I have instructed (people) to do a follow up ... PPEs are important in the containment of the COVID-19, along with testing chemicals, materials and re-agents. These are something we’ve been pressing on,” he noted in a press briefing yesterday.

The budget allocation is the subject of two bills filed by the House committee on health chairperson Angelina Tan and House committtee on ways and means chairman Joey Salceda in the first week of February.

The amount, which was endorsed by President Duterte, will be used to buy surgical masks and PPEs primarily for health workers and persons who will be investigated for possible coronavirus infection.

Two weeks ago, the DOH wrote the House to follow up on its request.

The DOH, according to Duque, still has “enough budget” for now since the country still does not have local transmission of the COVID-19.

He added that the DOH was also given “guidance” by the Department of Budget and Management that they can tap close to P530 million in existing DOH budget for “other supplies.”

“We can use this in the meantime that we are waiting for (House) approval,” the health chief said.

The DOH is also waiting for the delivery of over 200,000 masks by the Philippine International Trading Corp. from a manufacturing company in Bataan.  – With Sheila Crisostomo, Neil Jayson Servallos, Mayen Jaymalin, Christina Mendez

BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT DOT
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