DOT allocates P6 billion for measures vs COVID-19

MANILA, Philippines, March 5 ------ The Department of Tourism (DOT) is allocating P6 billion for measures that will help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the tourism sector, which will strengthen the continued cooperation between the public and private sectors amid the global health emergency. “To strengthen this private-public partnership initiative, the DOT will be allocating approximately P6 billion that will span international and domestic promotions, infrastructure and regional tourism development,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said at a press conference yesterday.

Of the funding, P421 million will be used to develop a new campaign for domestic travel, while P467 million will be allocated for the creation of engaging content that will resonate with countries unaffected by COVID-19. Both the DOT and other tourism stakeholders earlier announced they would focus on the domestic tourism market, with foreign arrivals expected to be affected by the temporary travel ban imposed on China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau due to COVID-19.

Based on data from the Bureau of Immigration (BI), foreign arrivals in February dropped 41.4 percent to 418,126 from 713,394 arrivals in the same month last year. Puyat had earlier said that the projected forgone revenue due to the travel ban was P14.8 billion for February. Figures of actual losses during the month have yet to be released. Apart from the international and domestic promotions efforts, Puyat said P725 million would be allocated for tactical programs, conducting and participation at international events and market development initiatives worldwide.

“For our direct support to the private sector, the DOT will waive the participation fees for international travel and trade fairs from Feb. 17 to June 30, amounting to P11.2 million,” she added. This could also be extended until December, depending on the COVID-19 situation, according to the tourism chief.