MANILA – The PHP14-billion allocation for several tourism programs and infrastructure would span three years to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on the industry, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Tuesday.
The tourism industry, which contributed 12.7 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), and provided 5.4 million jobs in 2018, was the hardest hit sector since the Covid-19 outbreak.
From February to March alone, the estimated foregone revenue amounted to more than PHP40 billion, with more losses expected in the coming weeks as the entire Luzon has been placed on enhanced community quarantine.
“In order to prepare for the eventual return of regular operations once the pandemic has subsided, it is imperative for the government to infuse more funding for construction/rehabilitation of tourism infrastructure while tourist sites are either closed or with only a few tourists,” Romulo-Puyat said in a text message.
She said the PHP14 billion funding, to be sourced from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority’s (TIEZA) own budget, will cover various tourism development initiatives.
Of the identified projects, more than PHP5 billion will be allocated to infrastructure in Bohol, Iloilo, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Corregidor Island, and other tourist destinations. The projects will be implemented within the year and are seen to create thousands of jobs during the construction phase.
TIEZA would also focus on the rehabilitation of tourist destinations but not limited to sewer treatment plants in Coron, Palawan (PHP500 million), Puerto Galera (PHP 300 million), and Burnham Park in Baguio City (PHP400 million).
Among others, TIEZA will work with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for the night rating of airports — a PHP1.284 billion project that would allow the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to waive its collection of landing fees from airlines estimated at about PHP440 million a year.
With the aviation sector reeling from the impact of Covid-19 and temporary restrictions on flights, Romulo-Puyat said the initiative “could help offset the operational losses of the airlines affected by travel restrictions and canceled flights.”
Meanwhile, more than PHP800 million is earmarked to improve road access to a number of tourism sites in the country for the next three years.
She said the TIEZA Board has also approved the PHP1.022 billion funding for the crafting of regional tourism development plans and masterplans.
“TIEZA will work with the Department of Tourism, other relevant government agencies and the rest of the tourism stakeholders to re-invigorate the tourism sector and provide fresh opportunities again for the tourism enterprises and workers after the outbreak has subsided,” Romulo-Puyat said. (PNA)