THE Department of Tourism (DOT) and its main attached agencies will be allocated new appropriations of P2.94 billion for fiscal year 2024, some 21 percent less than their appropriations this year.
Of the total, the DOT-Office of the Secretary (Osec) will receive P2.6 billion, the Intramuros Administration (IA) P73.03 million, the National Parks and Development Committee (NPDC) P247.51 million, and the newly established Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) P14.17 million.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has constantly stated that tourism is a priority program of his administration. Yet, both the DOT-Osec and IA are receiving less funds in 2024, according to the proposed National Expenditure Program for FY2024 of the Department of Budget and Management. Inclusive of automatic appropriations, DOT-Osec will receive a total budget of P2.65 billion in 2024, about 23 percent less than its budget this year.
Under its baseline scenario in the National Tourism Development Plan for 2023-2028, the DOT projects 7.7 million international tourists and 93.5 million domestic trips in 2024, from 4.8 million international tourists and 85.1 million domestic trips this year.
P5.1M for branding, promotions
By program, close to P821 million will go to DOT’s Market and Product Development, P773.9 million to Tourism Policy Formulation and Planning, P120.08 million to Tourism Industry Training, and P83.16 million to Standards Development and Enforcement. Of the total budget next year, P500 million may be used for the agency’s branding campaign program, the same amount allocated this year.
The DOT Central Office has been allocated some P2.18 billion, while its regional offices will get P427.26 million, with the largest amounts going to Western Visayas (P38.81 million), Central Visayas (P33.71 million), and Ilocos (P30.22 million), and the National Capital Region (P29.46 million). Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco has said the DOT intends to develop and promote lesser-known tourism destinations in the country.
In addition to the DOT’s main budget, the DBM earmarked special provisions such as a P4.56-million allocation next year under the Tourism Development Fund, which “shall be used for the development, promotion, and marketing of tourism in the country sourced from accreditation, identification card, sticker and code fees…” in accordance with Section 16 of Republic Act No. 9593 (Tourism Act of 2009), as per the NEP 2024 document. Said funds can only be released after the DOT submits a special budget list of projects.
This year, questions have arisen about the use by the DOT of its promotions budget after it presented a video, which appeared to promote foreign destinations, upon unveiling its new tourism slogan, “Love the Philippines.” It blamed the mistake on its advertising agency, DDB Philippines Inc. (See, “Despite fiasco, ad agency of DOT could still get paid,” in the BusinessMirror, July 4, 2023.)
Parks, Scuba diving get boost
The DOT may also tap some P243.79 million in Trust Receipts, sourced from the net profits of its attached government firm, the Duty Free Philippines Corp., which “shall be used for tourism related projects and activities” in accordance with the executive order that establishes the duty-free merchandising system in the country.
Similarly, the IA’s budget next year was reduced to just P73.03 million from P91.73 million this year. By program, P33.1 million will fund IA’s Property Conservation and Development, P3.25 million for Commercial Property Leasing, some P4.45 million for Tourism Promotions, and P6.9 million for its Regulatory Program.
In contrast, the NPDC will receive a higher allocation next year at P247.51 million, up 11 percent from this year’s P223.54 million. The agency operates and maintains Rizal Park (Luneta) and Paco Park.
PCSSD will also receive a higher budget next year at P14.17 million, almost 49 percent higher than this year’s allocation of P9.53 million.