File photo.

The city government is eyeing to allow tax cuts for the tourism sector to help boost its recovery after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period.

Councilor Matthew Mendoza, the tourism committee chairperson at the City Council, however stressed that the priority should remain to be on the containment of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Sa latest message ni President [Duterte] last night, hindi pa yata matatapos ang ECQ sa April 30. As of now, we really have to protect our city and province from the virus. We will have to wait when we are all safe and we are given clearance by the national government that it is safe for us to invite tourists once again,” he said.

Mendoza also said that the Department of Tourism (DOT), tourism council, and local and national tourism-related enterprise (TRE) are already planning the “next steps” for the tourism sector.

“Possible government assistance may be tax incentives, regulatory fees discounts subject to City study and approval. We will also assist in asking for these incentives from national agencies, for instance, sa renewals etc.,” he said.

Boosting local tourism while anticipating further suspension of the land, sea, and air travel were also sought to help on the significant drop in the tourism sector since the onset of COVID-crisis in January.

“Before nag-implement ng ECQ, nagkaroon kami ng meeting with the local TRE at isa sa mga naging plano at idea ay ang pag promote ng local tourism. Napag-kasunduan is to encourage the TREs to give discounts on their products and services and same with the government fees. We’ll offer big discounts for locals, this will encourage local tourism within our province and local tourists to avail the promos,” he added.

Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez, in an earlier statement, said that the island province, which was frequented by local and foreign tourists, has suffered a loss due to COVID-related restrictions.

“It really affected the tourism sector of Palawan, including malls, airlines, and hotels considering that there were flight cancellations,” he said.

The City Tourism Office (CTO) reported that the number of domestic and foreign arrivals in January 2020 was only at 60,714 compared to the same period in 2019 at 110,046; while February 2020 recorded only 22,905 tourists arrivals compared to the previous year’s 117,095.

Puerto Princesa mayor Lucilo Bayron locked down the air and seaports going in and out of the city on March 5, ahead of the Luzon-wide ECQ imposed by President Duterte on March 14.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.