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The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday vowed to “innovate ways” and continue engaging with its partners towards recovery and to support local tourism businesses severely hit by the continuing coronavirus disease health crisis.

“The DOT along with other national tourism organizations worldwide continues in its pursuit to develop and innovate ways to assist our stakeholders as we face the new normal,” Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon, Jr. said in a virtual presser on Friday.

Bengzon highlighted Manila’s Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP), which he said “will serve as the guide of tourism industry towards recovery”.

Under the said plan, crafted when Covid-19 was starting to spread across the world, the DOT would focus on “sustained business operations, appropriate infrastructure policy, and enhanced marketing and market and product development”.

Bengzon said the DOT would continue working with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in continuing infrastructure programs that would support destinations and businesses adapt to the new normal.

“The convergence program of the DOT with the DOTr and the DPWH will continue for increased air connectivity and a more efficient road network to help stimulate domestic, and, when borders are open, inbound travel,” he said in a text message.

He said the DOT is also developing travel bubbles and green corridors to restart travel.

Among others, the DOT leads in the formulation of health and safety guidelines governing tourism activities and establishments.

“Part of our domestic tourism thrust as instructed by the Secretary is to develop tourism circuits that will link domestic destinations that have adopted health and safety guidelines and demonstrated their ability and willingness to reopen. As you know we have also started subsidizing the cost of RT PCR tests for travelers in an effort to make domestic travel more affordable,” he told the Philippine News Agency.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) earlier reported a sharp decline in international tourist arrivals, “the worst in tourism history,” as a result of travel restrictions and low consumer confidence due to the pandemic.

In the Philippines alone, foreign tourist receipts fell to PHP82.24 billion in 2020, plunging 83 percent from PHP482.16 billion recorded in 2019.

Despite the setback and losses brought by the pandemic, Bengzon said the DOT tries to look at this reset “in a positive light and turn it as an opportunity for the Philippines to restart tourism into a more resilient, more sustainable industry.” (PNA)


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