QUEZON City Rep. Alfred Vargas is urging public and private stakeholders to further work together towards the full recovery of the embattled tourism sector.
In a proposed House Resolution (HR) he filed, Vargas called for the implementation of “measures aimed at catalyzing the recovery of our tourism sector.”
“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 bounce back fully],” Vargas said.
Vargas commended Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat for steering the sector through the difficulties of the economic lockdown.
“Secretary 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 added that the government needs to reinforce its commitment to helping 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.
The Quezon City lawmaker said 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% 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 (LGUs) for tourism promotion.
Vargas said the government’s efforts to address the pandemic through vaccination and the cooperation of the public have yielded positive results.
The 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 [have] 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.