DOT: ‘Days of despair over’ as travel eases

·2 min read

INSTEAD of focusing on visitor numbers, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Puyat enjoins all tourism stakeholders to provide guests with high-quality and sustainable tourism practices.

“Today, tourism in the new normal cannot just be about visitor numbers and short-term economic gains. Instead, we must focus on providing guests with high-quality practices and practicing sustainability and inclusive growth for the tourism industry and the communities that depend on it,” said Puyat during Cebu Pacific’s stakeholder’s event Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.

The Philippines saw an 84 percent drop in foreign arrivals in 2020, receiving 1.32 million visitors, compared to 8.26 million in 2019. Japan, South Korea and China are its biggest tourism markets.

With the recent travel improvements, Puyat said the industry is now starting to feel a rebound, especially in the domestic scene.

“We, in the DOT, believe that our days of despair are over as we’ve seen many encouraging signs in the last few weeks. This includes the continually dropping Covid case numbers, easing of alert levels and restrictions on mobility, and even the lessening of quarantine days for fully vaccinated Filipinos returning from overseas,” she said.

“We know that recovery won’t come overnight. Since the start of the pandemic, the airline industry and our tourism stakeholders shared the idea that our recovery will not come at the expense of tourists and our workers. We had to do things slowly, surely and responsibly as safeguarding everyone’s health became our No. 1 priority,” she added.

Proposed budget

Earlier, the DOT proposed a P3.52 billion budget for 2022 to support its plans and programs.

Puyat said in reports that the DOT would expand its product offerings and explore more green tourism lanes that may be used by domestic tourists next year once the Philippines’ travel set-up has stabilized.

Prior to the pandemic, the tourism industry contributed P2.51 trillion, or nearly 13 percent, to the country’s gross domestic product. This dropped to P973.31 billion in 2020 at the height of the health crisis.

Vaccination

In the meantime, the DOT is fast-tracking the inoculation of tourism workers nationwide to prepare the industry for its full rebound.

The DOT said 75.39 percent or 236,714 of the total active tourism workers in the country are now vaccinated against Covid-19 as of Nov. 26.

“We will not stop until we achieve 100 percent vaccination for all our active tourism workers,” said Puyat.

According to the DOT’s data as of Nov. 19, the National Capital Region is still the region with the highest vaccination coverage for tourism workers with 99.79 percent, followed by Davao Region with 99.11 percent, Cordillera Administrative Region with 96.79 percent, Central Luzon with 95.10 percent and Eastern Visayas with 90.55 percent.

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