House Eyes P58 Billion for Tourism Sector Recovery
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano revealed this yesterday as he urged the Department of Tourism (DOT) to prepare a recovery program while Congress works on providing needed infrastructure. Philstar.com/File Photo
Source: The Philippine Star, June 17, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives is eyeing a P58-billion fund for recovery of the country’s tourism industry from recession caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano revealed this yesterday as he urged the Department of Tourism (DOT) to prepare a recovery program while Congress works on providing needed infrastructure.
“There are challenges, but we can really see opportunities here in the tourism industry if we can put a big sum of money on tourism-related infrastructure,” he explained.
“There are systems that can be put in place, so that in one year – or one year and a half when COVID is gone, every corner of our country with a tourism industry will be ready to get back on track,” Cayetano stressed.
The Speaker said that while there are still restrictions on tourism activities, there is a need to speed up processes to address the gaps in tourism infrastructure.
He said the Lower House has been doing its part to help the tourism sector recover from economic losses due to the community quarantine measures implemented to combat COVID-19.
Cayetano revealed that the proposed funding is included in the proposed P1.3-trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) Act that was passed on third and final reading before Congress adjourned sine die earlier this month.
The ARISE Bill provides that the DOT and its instrumentalities shall assist critically affected businesses that are DOT-accredited tourism enterprises through interest-free loans or issuance of loan guarantees with terms of up to five years for maintenance and operating expenses; credit facilities for upgrading of current establishments to be compliant with new health standards; marketing and product development promotions and programs; grants for education, training and advising for tourism stakeholders for new normal alternative livelihood programs; utilization of information technology for the improvement of tourism services, development of a tourist tracking system for emergency response and establishment of spatial database to improve planning capacity; and any other relevant program, including infrastructure, necessary to mitigate the economic effects of COVID-19 on the tourism industry.
The National Economic and Development Authority has estimated that the tourism sector across the regions has lost a total P60.25 billion during the two-month enhanced community quarantine.
Western Visayas tourists only
Last week, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force approved the recommendation of Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores to gradually open up Boracay for tourism starting June 16, with only tourists from the Western Visayas region allowed in.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said earlier that the DOT is ready to give Boracay hotels a certificate of authority to operate (CAO), once they have received letters of intent from the respective establishments.
“All they need to do is to send a letter of intent and we will check if they are complying with the COVID protocols of the Department of Health and the World Health Organization,” Puyat said, noting that all hotels in Boracay are DOT-accredited.
On Tuesday, the DOT Western Visayas unit released a list of 81 accommodation establishments in the region that have been issued a CAO or provisional CAO (PCAO).
“These accommodation establishments are authorized to proceed with limited operation during the enforcement of the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ),” the DOT Region VI office said.
At present, the provinces of Western Visayas are currently under MGCQ, particularly Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental including Iloilo City and Bacolod City.
Of the 81 accommodation establishments, 16 are located in Aklan, eight of which are in Boracay; two in Antique; three in Capiz; 14 in Guimaras; 19 in Iloilo and 27 in Negros Occidental.
Under the interim guidelines for the application for accreditation of tourism enterprises, there are three types of certifications that a tourism enterprise may receive.
Tourism enterprises that will be issued a certificate of accreditation – which is valid for two years – are found to be compliant with minimum public health standards, as well as both basic and minimum standards for the operation of tourism facilities and services; and have undergone a physical inspection of its premises.
In contrast, tourism enterprises that will be issued a certificate of provisional accreditation – valid for one year – are those that are also found to be compliant with minimum public health standards, as well as both basic and minimum standards for the operation of tourism facilities and services, but has only gone through a virtual inspection of its premises.
Meanwhile, a certificate of registration shall be issued to a tourism enterprise that is found to be compliant with only the basic requirements for the operation of tourism facilities and services and will be valid for one year. Catherine Talavera