CEBU

DOT 7 seeks bigger share of P71B aid, estimates P25B loss in first half

AID. Foreign tourists take a selfie shot with Bohol’s famous Chocolate Hills as their backdrop. Central Visayas’ battered and bloodied tourism sector is seeking government support to help tide them over the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. (SunStar File Photo)

CENTRAL Visayas is looking to get a bigger chunk of the P71 billion stimulus fund the Department of Tourism (DOT) is asking for to help tourism businesses ravaged by the coronavirus crisis.

DOT 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano estimated that the region will have at least P25 billion in foregone tourism revenues in the first half of 2020 as visitor arrivals collapse.

Tamano expects Cebu, the regional tourist hub, to get a huge portion of the stimulus aid once approved by Congress given tourism’s economic contribution here.

“It will depend on the number of our establishments and the size of the industry,” he said in a virtual press interview, noting that the sector earned about P97 billion in tourism revenue last year, excluding the profits earned by English as a Second Language companies and Airbnb operators here.

Tamano said tourism officers in the region are now identifying businesses, including hotels and tour operators, who may benefit from the stimulus aid.

The Congress has proposed the P1.3 trillion Philippine Economic Stimulus Act of 2020 to help the economy recover from the pandemic-induced economic fallout.

Of the total, the DOT seeks an allocation of P71 billion, Tamano said.

The bill seeks to protect workers from impending job losses and help businesses recover from income loss due to the economic crisis.

Tamano said his office is now looking into ways of reviving the tourism industry despite projections that global tourism will take a long time to recover from the blow dealt by the pandemic.

He said focusing on opening up domestic tourism will be the priority first.

A total of 5.116 million domestic and 4.308 foreign tourists visited Central Visayas last year.

In 2019, Cebu accounted for about 79 percent of the region’s tourism pie, housing most of the biggest hotels and famous tourist destinations. In the first half of 2020, tourist arrivals to the region are expected to plunge due to travel restrictions here and abroad.


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