President gives tourism a lift

MANILA, 12 February 2020: The Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte will travel to popular destinations in the country to show travel is safe despite the threat of the 2019-novel coronavirus scare.

He is due to travel to Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol, according to the Philippines News Agency report.

Tourism Secretary, Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, discussed strategies to keep the country’s travel sector afloat in a meeting with Duterte on Monday. One of the strategies focused on prioritising domestic tourism to offset losses from China.

“We just had a meeting with President Duterte together with Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, Philippine Airlines, the Philippine Hotel Owners Association and the Tourism Congress of the Philippines and the President said that he wants to start travelling around the country to show that it’s safe,” she told reporters during a briefing in Pasay City.

Romulo-Puyat said the campaign would target Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol — destinations profoundly affected by the decrease in tourists from China and its special administrative regions due to the 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease outbreak. The initiative is seen to roll out by next week.

Romulo-Puyat is quoted by the PNA as saying: “(The President) wants even to take commercial flight and go through the proper protocols to show that it’s safe to travel around the country,” she added.

President Duterte earlier restricted the travel of foreigners coming from China to stop the virus from spreading in the country.

The Philippines’ tourism sector fears it could lose around USD291.71 million or about PHP14.83 billion during February 2020 due to the restrictions on travel from China.

However, Romulo-Puyat said the industry “will remain one of the top growth drivers”.

“In the coming days, the tourism sector has agreed to roll out more value-added tour packages, discounted accommodation rates, and marked down prices for domestic flights,” she concluded.

(Source: PNA)