The Department of Tourism requested a ₱3.58 billion fund to allocate to different Tourist spots in the country.
The Department of Tourism (DoT) said it expects at least 3.23 million foreign visitors by 2023, which is still less than the 8.26 million in 2019 or before the pandemic.
Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said “under present conditions, we will not be able to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2025,” during her defense of DoT budget at the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations on Wednesday.
By 2023, there may be 4.8 million international visitors, under a medium scenario, and in the optimistic scenario is up to 6.48 million visitors.
The DOT is seeking ₱3.58 billion budget for the coming year, but several lawmakers are in favor of increasing it to boost the tourism industry and restore jobs that were lost due to the pandemic travel restrictions, the Business Mirror reported.
“I fully support an increase in DOT’s budget and increase the TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority)subsidy so that we could build more infrastructure, and make us more competitive with our Asean neighbors, and create livelihood opportunities.” said Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay 1st district ).
Approximately ₱1.3 billion would be set for the national branding campaign under the DOT's planned budget. This is a substantial increase from the ₱309 million allocated this year.
Asked if the still-popular DOT slogan, "It's More Fun in the Philippines," would change, Garcia Frasco responded that the organization would "enhance it to reflect the current conditions coming from the pandemic" and strengthen the so-called Filipino brand, which would emphasize the culture and heritage of the country.
She assured Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte 1st district)that the Mindanao area will get about 30 percent of the DoT's projected budget for next year in order to fund tourist development initiatives.
The DOT also requested Tier-2 money to establish an Infrastructure Development Fund and a Tourism Contingency Fund, the latter of which would be used to hasten the recovery of tourist destinations following a natural catastrophe or other crisis.
Garcia- Frasco said that it was "not DoT's mandate" to give out subsidies or offer assistance and the like when asked by Gabriela Women's Party-List Representative Arlene Brosas how much budget will assist tourist employees who have lost their jobs.
Other government agencies include the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). A collaborative initiative between the DOT and DOLE with funding from the Bayanihan 2 Act provided monetary assistance of P3.1 billion to more than 520,000 displaced employees in the tourist sector in the National Capital Region alone last year.
The Philippine Sports Scuba Diving Commission is given P9.53 million out of the P3.58 billion total requested budget, while the Office of the Secretary receives P3.3 billion, the Intramuros Administration receives P63 million, and the National Parks Development Committee receives P204.62 million.
The Commission on Audit noted that the agency replied to inquiries regarding the use of funds. Still, its officials’ assured legislators that they had already implemented almost 97 percent of the commission's latter’s recommendations.
Tags: #DOT, #Tourist