President Rodrigo Duterte recently met with DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat , DOT executives, and travel and tourism leaders to hear updates on the implications of the Novel Corona Virus or COVID 19 pandemic to Philippine tourism.
With PDOT Sec. Puyat were Usec. Art Boncato, Asec. Howie Uyking along with the private sector’s Lance Gokongwei of Cebu Pacific, Mikee Romero and Ricky Isla of AirAsia Philippines, Gilbert Santamaria of Philippine Airlines, Jojo Clemente of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, Art Lopez of the Philippine Hotel Owners Association.
Mass cancellations of airline, hotel, and resort bookings, forced unpaid leaves, restaurant closures, rescheduled events, travel bans to countries associated with the spread of the virus , and health advisories restricting travel threaten inbound and outbound businesses so much so that a domestic tourism strategy was formulated by industry leaders and the DOT to counter its ill-effects.
“Together we would like to assure the public, especially the foreign and domestic tourists that the Philippines remains a safe destination for travel,“ Puyat stated.
“Even before the temporary ban, systems were already in place. We implemented safeguards for the well-being of guests in the light of the Corona virus. We released guidelines and protocols in handling guests in tourism establishments during this global emergency,” she added.
“President Duterte promised to come with us in some of our domestic trips, which is a first. He mentioned Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol which are the top destinations. He wants to tell us that he wants to travel every week, even on commercial flights, going through the proper protocol to show it’s safe to travel in the country,” Puyat revealed.
In the coming days there will be more value-added tour packages, marked- down prices for both accommodations and domestic airline flights to encourage the public to travel around the Philippines.
“Take advantage of the special deals and explore more of what we have in our 7,641 islands.”
From previous statement of DOT, the number of domestic tourists in 2018 reached 110 million, which is an increase of 14.1 percent from the previous year’s figure of 96.4 million. This exceeds the 89.2 million target in 2022 stated in the National Tourism Development Plan or NTDP.
A spike in domestic tourism will be a boon to an industry that is already feeling the negative effects of decreased tourism revenue. According to Puyat, the tourism industry has provided 5.4 million jobs to Filipinos, not counting indirectly-related businesses.
“It has elevated more than 2 million Filipinos out of poverty,” Puyat said.