Tourism dept asks House to increase budget
The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Wednesday appealed to the House of Representatives to increase their budget.
At a House budget deliberation, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said that the Department of Budget and Management only approved P3.2 billion out of their proposed 12 billion budget.
“The proposal that we presented to the Department of Budget and Management was the total amount of 12.2 billion pesos. The approved budget given to us was 3.2 billion pesos,” Frasco told the hearing.
4Ps Party-list Rep. Marcelino Libanan suggested that additional funds be allocated to DOT so that the Philippines tourism industry could compete with other countries.
“How are we going to compete with other countries? Maybe we need to add to that (DOT budget). Our country will recover economically if they have bigger funding,” Libanan said.
He underscored the need to provide additional funds to the DOT because of their lack of tourism attaches.
Libanan said the DOT should also have a digital marketing strategy.
He also suggested that the visa policy should be reviewed since it was too “restrictive” for foreign tourists.
In response, Frasco stressed the importance of the tourism industry in contributing to the economy.
“I wish to point out that our tourism industry contributes at least 12.9 percent to our gross domestic product (GDP). Yet comparatively, the budget of the Department of Tourism accounts for .063 percent of the entire national budget,” she said.
Frasco said they have also proposed “by way of formal communication” ways to improve the accessibility of visas and to extend the stay of tourists to increase their spending in the country.
She said she has met with attaches from all over the world, acknowledging that they are “undermanned” in terms of key destinations.
“For this reason, I will be in full support of any measures the House of Representatives may introduce to assist our department to increase funding to increase the number of attaches as well,” Frasco said.
For her part, Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy asked the department if they had goals for the number of local and foreign tourist arrivals.
Frasco said they had projections for arrivals presented in three scenarios, taking into consideration the pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine war.
“Now these projections are presented in three scenarios. The upside or the mild, the medium or the harsh and the downside or the severe scenario,” Frasco said.
“The projection is that for 2023 on the downside, we would have 3.23 million arrivals. On the medium side, we would have 4.8 million arrivals. On the upside we would have 6.48 million arrivals,” she added.
Frasco said the country would be unable to recover its pre-pandemic number of tourists “under present circumstances” and “under the present budgetary ceiling” until 2025.
“Which is precisely the reason why we are appealing to this august body, to lend its support to the Department of Tourism so that our industry and our country can recover sooner than it is projected,” she said.
Several lawmakers supported her request, including Manila Rep. Edward Maceda, who added current DOT officials should have better budget utilization rate than the previous administration. Jaspearl Tan/DMS