MANILA, 8 September 2021: The Philippines’ Department of Tourism will pursue a 2022 recovery plan with an end goal of a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive tourism industry, the Philippines News Agency reported earlier this week.
Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat presented the plan as part of the DOT’s proposed 2022 budget to the House of Representatives appropriations committee.
The DOT has proposed a PHP3.52 billion budget for 2022 to support its plans and programmes, as well as a PHP63.71 million allocation for the Intramuros Administration and PHP203.79 million for the National Parks Development Committee.
The plan calls for more green tourism lanes first for domestic tourists in early 2022 once the Covid-19 situation in the Philippines stabilises. International travel should follow based on the country’s vaccination programme and stabilising Covid-19. Like its neighbours in ASEAN, the country is looking at ways to live with Covid-19 and establish policies for tourism that are not conditional on achieving zero virus outbreaks, but so far, there are no clear indicators on when the Philippines will fully open to vaccinated international travellers.
“As international borders start to open, the key, strategic and opportunity markets will be engaged and green lanes explored in preparation for revenge travel,” Romulo-Puyat said.
Romulo-Puyat said the DOT’s policy direction banks on the reformulated National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) for 2016 to 2022, which has a three-pronged thrust of promoting safe, fun, and competitive tourism; pursuing sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism; and strengthening governance and destination management.
The DOT has also updated its Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP) with the main objective of mitigating the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry.
She said this would guide the department and stakeholders in ensuring the protection of jobs and safety of travel workers, visitors, and communities, as well as support for tourism enterprises.
Among others, it will help rebuild confidence and growing demand in domestic and foreign markets.
“Under the Tourism Standards and Enforcement Program, we shall continue to improve service standards and restore confidence to travel, develop, and enforce tourism standards that are at par with global best practices,” she said.
Before the pandemic, the tourism industry contributed PHP2.51 trillion, or nearly 13%, to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. This dropped to PHP973.31 billion in 2020 at the height of the health crisis.
Based on the World Tourism Barometer report of the United Nations World Tourism Organization issued in May, the global travel industry suffered a decline of 72.9% in international visitor arrivals in 2020.
The Philippines registered a much steeper 82% slide from 8.26 million tourist arrivals in 2019 to just 1.48 million in 2020.
“Despite the challenges and limitations in 2020 and 2021, the DOT supports efforts to keep the tourism industry afloat while laying the groundwork for the industry’s recovery,” Romulo-Puyat said.
She said the DOT is focused heavily on providing immediate response to those displaced by the pandemic.
As of 26 August, Romulo-Puyat reported DOT had conducted 352 training courses for industry stakeholders with 19,871 participants.
“During the industry’s downtime, we were able to reskill, upskill, and retool the tourism stakeholders with the health and safety protocols and operations under a new normal environment,” she said.
Further, 44 new tourism circuits were established by the department, in addition to the 71 that are still undergoing development.