MANILA- Family road trips may be the key to the recovery of Philippine tourism from the coronavirus crisis, the Department of Tourism said Friday as it prepared measures to uplift the industry.
Domestic travel, starting with short-distance road trips, may revive the tourism industry once lockdown policies across the country are fully lifted, Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon said.
"We believe that, for the rest of the year, what will really trigger the activities is itong domestic tourism movement," he said in a virtual press briefing.
"Mag-uumpisa 'yan mga domestic travel, medyo mga short distance muna siguro by land lang muna. And then siguro 'yung mga kasama mo 'yung pamilya mo or at least 'yung mga kabisado mo ang travel history," he said.
(It will start with domestic travel probably with short-distance road trips, perhaps by land for the meantime. And then those traveling together are families or those whose travel history are familiar.)
The tourism industry is among the worst hit sectors by the coronavirus pandemic due to travel bans and restrictions on leisure activities.
For the first 3 months of the year, Bengzon said revenue from foreign tourist arrivals dropped by 35 percent with only a reported P85 billion generated.
Bengzon said the tourism department has set aside a P36-billion budget to help businesses in the industry recover from the pandemic.
"Ang priority po namin (our priority) is to help them by way of working capital at doon sa (and in) wage subsidies," he said.
The Department of Tourism also appealed to Filipinos to prioritize local travel once restrictions are lifted, to help the country's industry recover.
"Once we’re given that green light, unahin talaga natin ‘yung domestic tourism para matulungan natin 'yung mga restaurant at resorts na nagsara at nawalan ng revenue," Bengzon said.
(Let's prioritize domestic tourism so we can help restaurants and resorts that had to close and lost revenue.)