DOT 7 to submit tourism recovery plan

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 will submit this week the region’s Covid-19 recovery plan to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat so it could get a share of the agency’s recovery budget.

“We will submit the recovery plan a week from now. We are still gathering all the materials needed from all tourism stakeholders,” said DOT 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano in a press briefing on Friday, March 6, 2020.

Tamano said hoteliers and tour operators already met Thursday to discuss how low they could cut prices to stimulate domestic spending.

“We are continually meeting all the stakeholders,” he said. “It is at this time that we need to be united.”

According to Tamano, hotels, resorts and tour operators aren’t the only ones reeling from the effects of the travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 outbreak because even popular tourism destinations like Badian, Alegria, Samboan, Moalboal and Oslob are suffering from the slowdown in foreign arrivals.

“From an average of 2,000 tourists a day, they saw a drop to 800 tourists a day. They are badly hit and these attractions are the reason why tourists fly here,” said Tamano.

He said any measure including granting of tax breaks for a specific duration will be supported by the DOT 7 if it will help the industry survive this challenging time.

Tourism advocate and chairman emeritus of Network of Independent Travel Agencies Consul Robert Lim Joseph earlier urged Puyat to ask local government units (LGUs) to temporarily waive some taxes and other fees of tourism establishments and redirect the agency’s marketing funds on domestic tourism promotions, particularly those that the LGUs are promoting.

The DOT is allocating P6 billion in funds “that will span international and domestic promotions, infrastructure and regional tourism development,” boosting its partnership with tourism stakeholders and help speed up their recovery from the Covid-19 impact.

Among the programs and projects to be funded this year are: development of new campaign for domestic travel at P421 million; creation of “engaging content,” targeting emerging markets unaffected by Covid-19 at P467 million; participation in international travel shows and market development initiatives at P725 million; waiving of participation fees in international travel trade shows for the private sector at P11.2 million; night rating of secondary airports at P1.6 billion; training, orientation, response and protocols for Covid-19 preparedness at P850 million; assistance for LGUs developing tourism masterplans at P400 million; and LGU-identified resilient infrastructure development and expansion projects at P2.28 billion.

A pilgrimage tour during this Holy Week will kick off the tourism sector’s year-long Covid-19 recovery program in Central Visayas.

“We will come up with a strong campaign this summer season (April to May) through a pilgrimage tour this Holy Week. But we will have to ask the support of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines through the Archdiocese of Cebu,” said Tamano.

This year’s Holy Week falls on April 9 to 12. (JOB WITH KOC)