WATCH: Breakdown of DOT’s P6 billion funds for tourism dev’t amid COVID-19 setback

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - March 6, 2020 - 5:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism on Wednesday announced that it has several tourism development efforts to curb the setback from the coronavirus outbreak.

In a press conference, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the DOT is allocating approximately P6 billion for all the tourism development plans.

“To strengthen this private-public partnership initiative, the DOT will be allocating approximately PHP 6 billion pesos that will span international and domestic promotions, infrastructure, and regional tourism development,” Puyat said.

The P6 billion allocation is already the combined resources of the DOT and its attached agencies, according to Tourism spokesperson and undersecretary for tourism development Benito “Bong” Bengzon Jr.

A huge chunk of the fund, P2.280 billion, will be allocated to infrastructure developments and expansions to be identified and coordinated with the local government units.

At least P42 million will be given for the development of new campaign for domestic travel while P467 million will be spent to create engaging content that will resonate with the emerging countries unaffected by COVID-19.

The budget allocation was discussed during the meeting between members of the Tourism Coordinating Council.

During the meeting, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Puyat agreed “to turn the world health crisis into an opportunity to step up efforts to rehabilitate and upgrade the country’s tourist destinations.”

On the other hand, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured assistance to those workers who may be affected by the crisis.

Asked for the amount allocated for workers affected, the DOT chief said she is not aware of the exact amount yet but mentioned employees will be given skills training.

Tourist arrivals down by 41.4% in February

The DOT has repeatedly mentioned that it would rely on domestic tourism amid the threats of COVID-19.

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit the country’s top tourist destination, Boracay, to promote domestic tourism.

“We will showcase the Philippines as a safe destination, which in fact it is, and we will have no less than PRRD to promote our local destinations starting with Boracay where he will visit the rehabilitated areas," Puyat said in a statement.

The tourism industry admitted that it is suffering from the coronavirus outbreak with international tourist arrivals down by 41.4% in February with only 418,126 foreign arrivals last month compared to 713,394 in the same period last year.

Data from the Bureau of Immigration also showed that tourist revenues for the month of February declined by P18.9 billion.

The revenues in February this year was only P26.7 billion compared to last year’s P45.6 billion international tourism industry revenues.

The Department of Health confirmed the first three cases of COVID-19 in January and February.

It only announced confirmation of two new cases on Friday with one of which considered a “local case.”

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