THE tourism sector in Luzon, which is now recovering from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, has asked for government support.

This was gleaned during the meeting of Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco with tourism stakeholders in Luzon on Thursday.

Present during the meeting were representatives of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development (SCAD); Luzon International Premier Airport Development (LIPAD) Corporation; Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP); Clark Development Corporation (CDC); Pampanga Agents Travel Society (PATS); Hotels and Restaurants Association of Pampanga (HARP); Central Luzon Farm Tourism Association; Accredited Guides Association of Pampanga (AGAP); and Pampanga Bike Adventure Tour or PBAT.

Each of the participants were asked to voice out their concerns and suggestions for their respective sectors.

The group are asking for additional government support and increased inclusivity in terms of promotions, trainings, and harmonisation of accreditation standards for the industry.

“Your request is very specific—to manifest your intent to participate and to get assistance from your region on the part of the Department of Tourism. My reply to you, will also be very specific, in the form of a directive for the region to coordinate in order that your initiatives may be given support,” Frasco told the stakeholders.

In response, Frasco ordered for easier renewal process for DOT accreditation.

Knowing first hand the difficulties of tourism stakeholders to submit the documentary requirements for the renewal of DOT accreditation amid the pandemic, she instructed regional offices to waive the immediate submission of certain documentary requirements, provided that they sign an Sworn Statement of Undertaking that they agree to submit the lacking documents at a later time; and to shoulder the cost of the notarization of this undertaking.

She also disclosed DOT's plans to replicate the successful model of Cebu Travel Fair in destinations like Pampanga to promote accommodations and restaurants.

Frasco noted the appeal of HARP to help address the negative impressions that guests may have upon establishments that previously served as quarantine facilities.

LIPAD Corporation representative Noel Manangkil said their organization is grateful because the plans are grounded on the operational implementing level.

He added that there is a sense of participation in the strategies that will be crafted by the national government.

Danilo Cerdena of PATS said they were relieved that the DoT secretary heard their sentiments.

"She is very focused; she addressed the issues and concerns of the stakeholders and we are very grateful”, he added.

Matt de Castro of HARP said “having heard her (Frasco) today, I know we are in good hands."

In between her meetings with DOT Regional Directors and tourism stakeholders in Luzon, Frasco also joined a walkthrough of the Clark International Airport (CRK), one of the country’s major gateway. (RGN)