Philippines President Turning into Tourism Ambassador

Philippines, coronavirus, China, domestic tourism

Rodrigo Duterte during a speech in 2016 (Photo:KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte is to promote domestic tourism by travelling across the country in a move to rebalance an expected decline in tourist arrivals as Chinese travellers are temporarily banned to visit the archipelago.

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to join a campaign to boost domestic tourism and show that Philippine destinations, particularly Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol, are safe for travel amid the 2019-novel coronavirus scare.

The plan was revealed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat following her meeting with Duterte on Monday to discuss strategies to keep the country’s travel sector afloat.

“We just had a meeting with President Duterte together with Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, Philippine Airlines, Philippine Hotel Owners Association and Jojo Clemente of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines and he said that he wants to start travelling around the country to show that it’s safe,” she told reporters during a briefing in Pasay City.

Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the campaign would target Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol — destinations heavily affected by the decrease in tourists from China and its special administrative regions due to the 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease outbreak.

The initiative is seen to roll out by next week. “(The travel) would probably be during the day,” Romulo-Puyat said.

“He wants even to take a commercial flight and go through the proper protocols to show that it is safe to travel around the country,” she added.

President Duterte earlier restricted the travel of foreigners coming from China to stop the virus from spreading in the country.

With practically a shutdown on one of Manila’s most powerful tourism force, the Philippines’ tourism sector is projected to lose around USD291.71 million or about PHP14.83 billion for February 2020 alone. Tourist arrivals are expected to be down by at least 20% with popular destinations such as Boracay to see a drop of 30% to 40% in tourist movements.

Despite this, Romulo-Puyat said the industry “intends to remain as one of the top growth drivers” of the country.

“In the coming days, the tourism sector has agreed to roll out more value-added tour packages, discounted accommodation rates, and marked down prices for domestic flights,” she said.

(Source: PNA)