TIEZA allocates P14B for COVID-19 tourism recovery projects
This undated photo shows tourists enjoying the serene waters of Burnham lake in Baguio City.

TIEZA allocates P14B for COVID-19 tourism recovery projects

(Philstar.com) - March 18, 2020 - 10:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism, through its infrastructure arm, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), said it would allot P14 billion for tourism development program for its recovery projects line up in view of the economic impact of COVID-19.

TIEZA will work with the DOT, other relevant government agencies, and private tourism stakeholders “to re-invigorate the tourism sector and provide fresh opportunities again for the tourism enterprises and workers after the COVID-19 outbreak has subsided.”

Tourism Secretary and TIEZA chair Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that TIEZA would fund the infrastructure projects in major destinations in the country.

The DOT said the “funds are from the share of the travel tax and income generated by TIEZA which have been pre-programmed and allocated prior to the COVID-19 emergency.”

On the other hand, portions of the funds are from ongoing projects while others are in various stages of pre-procurement and procurement.

“This crisis will pass but our sector is badly hurt. We must find ways to shorten the tourism industry’s recovery path while generating jobs in the meantime,” she said in a release.

TIEZA also allocated more than P5 billion worth of infrastructure projects for Bohol, Iloilo, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Corregidor Island and other tourist destinations.

The projects eyed to be implemented within the year are expected to create thousands of jobs during the construction phase of the said projects.

The infrastructure arm also donated P1.2 billion for the rehabilitation of tourist sites such as the Burnham Park in Baguio City, as well as the construction of sewer treatment plants in Coron and Puerto Galera.

TIEZA board likewise approved the funding of regional tourism development plans and masterplans amounting to P1.022 billion.

These tourism development plans will identify the tourism infrastructure needed to ensure sustainable development, as well as promote the disaster resilience of tourist areas.

Aside from the infrastructure programs, TIEZA is working with the Department of Transportation for the night rating of airports worth P1.78 billion so that the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines may waive its collection of landing fees from airlines.

“This can help offset their operational losses due to travel restrictions and canceled flights,” the DOT said.

TIEZA also coordinated with the Department of Public Works and Highways to improve the roads to access tourism sites for the next three years. These refurbishments are estimated to cost P800 million.

In a chance interview late February, TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Pocholo Paragas admitted that tourism is greatly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. However, he said that TIEZA is working on “long-term projects.”

“If you look at COVID it’s happening at a very fast pace. Like I said, infrastructure and investment it takes time to build these things so our programs will really weather the storm kasi ‘yun nga we are long-term planning,” Paragas said, adding that the country should continue to promote domestic tourism. — Rosette Adel

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