• Melo Acuna

Filipinos can start Tourism industry

Filipinos to enliven local tourism industry MANILA – With different governments implementing a wide array of travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tourism Undersecretary Arturo P. Boncato, Jr. said the country was not spared from the downturn in the industry where about 5.71 million Filipinos were employed. Speaking at a virtual press conference dubbed #TravelSmart for Safe and Sustainable Tourism in the New Normal, Undersecretary Boncato said a substantial number of employees in Tourism have left the industry while others have ventured into some other livelihood while some have held on. “As Secretary (Bernadette) Romulo-Puyat said earlier the way for tourism to contribute to the country’s economy is through domestic tourism,” Boncato explained. He added this could be achieved by carefully and closely working with local government units and get the people’s confidence that it would be safe to travel so we can slowly start tourism. He said reports revealed revenues from tourism dipped by 60% year-on-year from January to May. “As of April last year, there were already 4.8 million tourist arrivals. However, arrivals stopped last March,” USec. Boncato, Jr. who heads the Department’s Tourism Regulation, Cooperation and Resource Generation bureau. Asked about rising numbers of COVID-10 positive cases and strict regulations enforced by local government units across the country, Mr. Boncato said that is to be expected as these are part of the set of challenges they have to address. He explained the more tourists there are, the more people are involved in the industry, from production of souvenirs, people who supply ingredients to restaurants, among others. “We never expected this pandemic to happen and we’re learning by the day how to respond and rebuild the confidence of travelers, pushing for sustainable tourism as envisioned by Secretary Puyat,” he added. Last year, domestic tourism contributed 10.8% out of 12.7% of GDP amount to P3.3 trillion pesos in tourism receipts. (Melo M. Acuña)

The majestic Mt. Mayon in Legazpi City viewed from Lignon Hill. (Melo M. Acuna photo)

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