After swift proceedings, the Department of Tourism (DOT) got the nod of the lower chamber for its proposed budget for the fiscal year 2023.
“On behalf of the Department of Tourism, I express my profound gratitude to the esteemed members of the House of Representatives for their invaluable support as tacitly manifested in today’s plenary deliberations which echoed resounding support from the majority to the minority for an increased Tourism budget,” enthused Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco.
“We especially appreciate the zeal and assiduity to which our tourism champion, Honorable Faustino “Inno” Dy, V from the 6th District of Isabela defended the Department’s budget for the fiscal year 2023,” added Frasco.
In his opening remarks, Representative Dy underscored the potential of the tourism industry in spurring economic activities further noting its significant 12.8 percent contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic when it reached an all-time high of 8.3 million foreign arrivals.
“As we continue to open our borders for tourism, it is highly necessary to protect the beauty and bounty of our tourist destinations, provide an impressive overall tourism experience and ensure the health and safety of our tourists, tourism workers and the entire Filipino people. We also hope to develop and promote other key tourist destinations and market the country globally through various branding, promotional and marketing strategies. The country’s tourism portfolio is at par with our ASEAN competitors; however, to further promote our tourist destinations, there is a need to further improve gateway access and other infrastructure for ease and convenience of travel,” explained Representative Dy.
“The DOT envisions the tourism industry as a pillar for economic recovery. The industry is an important tool for the country’s development. The attainment of the DOT’s goals is, therefore, undoubtedly our nation’s victory,” Representative Dy added.
The DOT and its attached agencies and corporations have a total recommended budget amounting to P3.573 B which is 27.87% higher than this year’s appropriations. However, this amount is only a .068 percent share of the government’s proposed 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP) vis-a-vis the tourism industry’s Php 2.5 Trillion contribution to the country’s GDP. In a prior hearing, Tourism Secretary Frasco disclosed that the agency originally requested Php 12 billion from the Department of Budget and Management to facilitate the successful implementation of the various programs aimed at the industry’s revival.
During the interpellation, Deputy Speaker Duke Frasco underscored the important role of the tourism industry in the country’s economic recovery post-pandemic emphasized, he said, “by no less than President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.” citing the industry as one of his administration’s priority agenda. Deputy Speaker Frasco pushed for an increase in the Department’s budget, a sentiment echoed by the Minority as manifested by Minority Leader Representative Marcelino C. Libanan of 4Ps Partylist.
“DOT needs to be equipped with the means and the tools to aid in our economic recovery to have enough fiscal space within its department to be competitive in the tourism market against our neighbors in the ASEAN and globally, to be nimble and resilient against future pandemics, epidemics, and calamities such as earthquakes and super typhoons that might befall our nation, and to be inclusive across all tourism markets and sectors not only focused on international tourist arrivals but in the massive potential of domestic tourism,” said Deputy Speaker Frasco.
Frasco related that all of the interpellators supported the increase in the budget appropriation of the Department having seen the importance of DOT as a major component in the country’s move towards economic recovery that has been devastated by the COVID Pandemic. “The final approval of the Department’s budget will facilitate a more vibrant and active tourism development thrust not only for the Department but for the whole tourism industry,” she enthused.