Duterte calls on Filipinos to boost economy through local tourism
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - July 27, 2020 - 9:39pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte in his fifth State of the Nation Address urged the public to travel locally to help the tourism industry, badly hit by lockdowns across the world, recover.

Duterte said that the tourism industry is among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

He assured the industry that the national government fully supports its recovery.

“While slow, try to put the fun back in your local travels. The national government agencies and LGUs must harmonize their policies to boost tourism in ensuring everyone’s well-being,” the president said in his SONA.

“We enjoin our people to help boost the economy by traveling locally once the necessary systems are in place,” he added.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat was seen applauding after Duterte mentioned his support for domestic tourism. 

Puyat said it was reassuring to learn that the president acknowledges the significant contribution of tourism to the economy.

“This is a very encouraging development knowing that the DOT (Department of Tourism) has the president’s full support as we further our plans to spur the recovery of the industry through the promotion of local travel," Puyat said in a released statement.

“What is music to our ears is the promise that the tourism industry can count on the support of not just the DOT,  but also the government as a whole ‘to put back the fun in our local travels,’ to borrow the president’s words,” she also said.

Philippine tourism employs some 5.7 million Filipinos and contributed a 12.7% share to the country’s gross domestic product in 2019. Last year, it reached an all-time high of 8.26 million international tourist arrivals.

Domestic travel

According to the results of the DOT's report titled “Philippine Travel Survey: Insights on Filipino Travel Behavior Post-COVID 19,” domestic tourism will lead the recovery of the tourism industry.

The same report showed that Filipinos are willing to try domestic tourism within months of quarantine lifting.

At least 77% of the respondents of the local online survey expressed their willingness to travel domestically even in the absence of a proven vaccine against COVID-19.

Puyat, however, repeatedly said tourist destinations in the country will open “slowly but surely” while taking in consideration the health and security measures for tourists.

Only areas under the modified general community quarantine are allowed to travel for leisure. Rules on tourism, however, vary in these areas as some local government units are not yet keen on reopening their areas to tourists.

The DOT said amenities and establishments are still required to secure a Certificate of Authority to Operate before resuming business.

Puyat has been hosting consultative meetings and dialogues with local tourism stakeholders from the country’s premier destinations such as Boracay and Palawan. She is slated to visit Bohol and Baguio next to discuss the tourist destinations' reopening.

"In reopening domestic tourism, the DOT shall continue to engage the national government agencies, LGUs, and stakeholders to ensure the safety of visitors and communities, and more importantly, in heeding the President's call to keep tourism destinations and sites sustainable in the process," the tourism chief said.

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