THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has been allocated some P13.97 billion to build access roads and bridges to declared tourism destinations, under a convergence program with the Department of Tourism (DOT).
According to the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for fiscal year 2024 proposed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), some 66 percent of the funds or P9.2 billion will be allocated to the DPWH Central Office in the National Capital Region (NCR). Outside the NCR, Central Visayas will receive the largest budget at P771.34 million, with Cebu getting the most funds at P320 million.
DBM documents said these funds will be used for the “construction, reconstruction, upgrading, and improvement of roads and bridges” under Tourism Road Infrastructure Program (TRIP). Next year’s P13.97-billion TRIP budget is 21 percent less than this year’s funding of P17.7 billion.
The DPWH and DOT jointly draw up the technical criteria and identify the priority areas where these roads and bridges will be constructed or improved to support the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) of 2023-2028. The convergence program was forged in 2012 by then Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. and Public Works Secretary Rogelio “Babes” L. Singson.
Top allocations outside NCR
Of the TRIP regional budget for 2024, after Central Visayas, the following regions will get the largest allocations: Davao Region at P470.86 million; the Cordillera Autonomous Region, where Sagada and Baguio are located, at P438.75 million; Cagayan Valley, which hosts the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, at P436.22 million; Western Visayas, where Iloilo and Bacolod are frequented by domestic tourists, at P363.26 million; and Calabarzon, where Batangas and Quezon are located, at P320 million.
Under the baseline scenario of the NTDP 2023-2028, the DOT is trying to attract 7.7 million international travelers and encourage 93.5 million domestic trips for 2024. The agency also projects visitor receipts of P5.5 billion from foreign guests and P2.21 trillion from domestic travelers that same year. Said visitor receipts are aimed to generate P2.4 trillion in tourism gross value-added and increase the tourism sector’s share to 10.26 percent of the local economy, as expressed in the gross domestic product.
P286B inbound receipts
As of August 10, the Philippines received 3.4 million international travelers, some 71 percent of the DOT’s target of 4.8 million for 2023, as per data released by the DOT.
However, this was still 30-percent less than the prepandemic arrivals of 3.85 million in the first seven months of 2019. Prior to the pandemic, the DOT reported visitor arrivals on a monthly basis.
Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco also bared that inbound receipts have reached P286 billion, close to 91 percent of this year’s baseline target of P316 billion. The seven months expenditures of foreign travelers in the country exceeded the P245 billion they spent in the first of half of pre-pandemic 2019. The DOT did not make available the July 2019 inbound receipts data.
During a panel discussion in a recent post-State of the Nation economic briefing in Cebu, the DOT chief said: “These numbers are only seen to grow further especially that the Philippines has now fully opened up to tourism. We’re very grateful to our President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. for prioritizing tourism in his national development agenda.” Despite the supposed priority for tourism, the DOT is getting a lower budget in the NEP 2024, due to its slow spending this year. Funds spent on promoting the Philippines as a tourism destination is also the lowest in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (See, “PHL tourism promotions get P1.3 billion for 2024,” in the BusinessMirror, August 9, 2023.)
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