Holistic solution to hike tourism output sought

A Quezon City lawmaker has cited the local tourism industry’s robust performance amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but at the same time, underscored the need to provide “adequate assistance” to enable the industry players to “fully bounce back.”

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas also lauded Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat for steering the tourism sector through the difficulties of the economic lockdown.

“After more than two years of virtual inactivity, our tourism sector is raring to welcome back local and foreign tourists. But many of our tourism stakeholders need adequate assistance to fully bounce back,” Vargas stated in a resolution filed at the House of Representatives.

Vargas maintained that public and private stakeholders should further work together towards the full recovery of the embattled tourism sector.

He said Puyat did a commendable job in mitigating the adverse impact of the pandemic.

“The Department of Tourism (DOT) now needs all the help in bringing the tourism sector back on its feet,” he said.

Vargas said the government needs to reinforce its commitment to help affected Filipinos regain their livelihood, but it needs to consider the inputs of all stakeholders towards a “whole-of-government and whole-of-society” solution.

“We owe a lot to our countrymen in the tourism industry, not only for their contributions to our economy, but also for their promotion of our culture, historical sites, natural wonders, and our heritage,” Vargas said in a statement.

He added that an “integrated tourism recovery roadmap” is also indispensable, considering the value of the tourism sector to millions of Filipinos.

In 2019, the tourism industry generated 5.71 million jobs and contributed 12.7 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Vargas suggested that policy and program solutions should be quickly explored. These include financial and wage subsidies for micro-, small-, and medium-sized tourism enterprises, increased investments and capital support, and comprehensive technical and fiscal assistance to local government units for tourism promotion.

Vargas said government efforts to address the pandemic through vaccination and the cooperation of the public have yielded positive results. Government has eased restrictions on mobility and public gatherings, allowed more businesses to open, and promoted overseas and local travel.

“There has been a generally steady improvement in the state of our tourism sector, with the DOT expressing optimism for a strong recovery
for this important pillar of our economy, especially this 2022,” Vargas said in his resolution.

“This Representation has been steadfast in calling for a whole-of-government, whole-of-nation, and whole-of-society approach in
addressing the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to our fellow Filipinos—in recognition of the valuable contribution of various
stakeholders in solving a problem of this scale and magnitude,” he added.

“It is the natural beauty of our country—our beaches and mountains and other natural wonders—and our innate hospitality as Filipinos that has made the Philippines a top tourist destination. In our next steps towards the New Normal, we can build back stronger only through mutual aid and assistance. We have to rebuild this key pillar of our economy together,” Vargas said.