Philippines to spend P6 billion to boost tourism amid novel coronavirus

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) will be spending some P6 billion to boost the tourism industry, which is heavily hit by the global spread of the novel coronavirus.

On Wednesday, March 4, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said the DOT's tourism resiliency program will focus on promoting domestic destinations and on assuring the public that it is safe to travel in the Philippines.

The money for the program will come from a pooled fund from various agencies.

Of the amount, P2.2 billion will be allocated for infrastructure development and expansion, which will be determined together with local government units of top tourist destinations.

P1.6 billion will be used to improve secondary airports.

Some P500 million is allocated for a sewerage treatment plant in Coron, Palawan, while P300 million will go to various projects in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro.

P725 million will be used to mount tactical programs, international events, and market initiatives.

P421 million will be spent on developing new campaigns, while P467 million will be used to create "engaging content" tailored for countries that are not affected by the novel coronavirus.

P85 million is earmarked for orientation and emergency response protocols training.

The Philippines stands to lose at least P42.9 billion in tourism revenues due to the threat of the novel coronavirus.

Tourist arrivals in Boracay declined significantly in February, amid travel restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the virus. From the 172,695 visitors in January, the number dwindled by 40% to 103,834.

Hotel occupancy rates have also declined by 27% in Cebu and 40% in Bohol, according to Puyat.

Aside from additional funding, Puyat said President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit Boracay in March to encourage tourists to visit the rehabilitated island. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

image