DOT to revise plan as Covid-19 upends targets

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THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is looking to revise its targets under the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2016-2022, taking into account its missed targets this year due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

This was confirmed by DOT Spokesman and Undersecretary for Tourism Development Benito C. Bengzon Jr. in a Viber message to the BusinessMirror: “We will review the target[s] and let you know once the new figures are out.”

Under the NTDP, which is a blueprint of government’s tourism goals, foreign visitor arrivals this year were targeted to reach 9.2 million, then 10.4 million in 2021, and 12 million in 2022. Inbound revenue was also projected at P661 billion this year, P776 billion in 2021, and P922 billion in 2022.

From January to July this year, foreign visitor arrivals slumped by some 73 percent to 1.32 million, with zero arrivals recorded from April to July. Inbound receipts plunged by 71.5 percent to P81.05 billion.

This developed as the DOT proposed a lower budget of P3.52 billion for 2021, of which some P3.48 billion are new general appropriations.

Documents from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed the proposed budget of the DOT next year is 2.5 percent lower than the latter’s budget this year of P3.61 billion. In previous budget proposals, among DOT’s performance indicators were its foreign visitor arrivals and receipts targets for the year.

Also included in the DOT’s proposed 2021 budget is an automatic appropriations of P42.32 million, of which P37.74 million pays for the retirement and life insurance premiums of employees, and some P4.6 billion comes from the Tourism Development Fund, to be used for the development, promotion and marketing of tourism in the country. The TDF is sourced from the accreditation, identification card, sticker and code fees, in accordance with Section 16 of Republic Act 9593 (Tourism Act of 2009).

In a text message, DOT Undersecretary for Legal Affairs and Chief of Staff Edwin R. Enrile told the BusinessMirror, “That was the budget ceiling given us by DBM. [It was probably] lowered because of lower fund sources and also taken into account our utilization/disbursements for 2020.”

The DOT has been instructed to deposit “all income and any unexpended funds in connection with government participation in expositions and other similar events [to] the National Treasury.”

Also suffering a budget cut will be the Intramuros Administration, a DOT-attached agency, with a proposed total obligations of P90.3 million in 2021, versus P188.83 million this year. At least P86.96 million are proposed new appropriations, which will fund the agency’s property conservation and development program (P15.72 million), commercial property leasing program (P4.77 million), tourism promotions program (P4.33 million), and regulatory program (P7.84 million).

Likewise, the National Parks also has a lower proposed budget in 2021 at P230.23 million from P258.68 million this year. Of the proposed appropriations next year, P138.76 million will fund the parks management program and P21.42 million will fund the agency’s cultural and events program.

As for the DOT’s main budget, of total new appropriations, some P2.02 billion will fund its Market and Development Program, its Tourism Policy Formulation and Planning Program (P247.38 million), Tourism Industry Training Program (P153.52 million), and Standards Development and Enforcement Program (P129.47 million).

Among the regional offices that will get the largest appropriations are Western Visayas at P34.55 million, the National Capital Region (P30.2 million), Central Visayas (P30.09 million), Ilocos (P29.68 million), and Davao (P28.32 million).

Image credits: Department of Tourism

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