PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte will meet tourism stakeholders and the task force overseeing the rehabilitation of Boracay when he visits the island on March 12, according to the Department of Tourism (DoT). In a statement on Wednesday, DoT said the President’s trip remains part of the tourism caravan to promote domestic travel amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. DoT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Mr. Duterte will meet with local tourism stakeholders, including representatives from airlines, hotels and resorts, and tour operators after the companies offered discounted rates to stimulate domestic travel. DoT earmarked P6 billion to help the domestic industry nationwide after tourist arrivals slumped by 42% in February amid the COVID-19 outbreak. “At least PHP 85 million will finance the training on COVID-19 orientation, preparedness, response and protocols for industry stakeholders,” the statement said. DoT data showed Philippine international tourism revenues in February dropped by 41% to P26.73 billion from P45.6 billion in the same month last year.
Mr. Duterte will also discuss with the tourism sector the action plan on sustaining the rehabilitation efforts. Boracay was closed, upon Mr. Duterte’s order, for six months in 2018 for an initial phase of redevelopment. DoT said this is the first time Mr. Duterte is visiting the island since its reopening in October 2018. Mr. Duterte in July 2019 approved a medium-term action plan to continue rehabilitating Boracay, which includes the enforcement of laws to regulate visitors, rehabilitation of ecosystems, and the improvement of roads and public health infrastructure. Malacañang also announced earlier that the President will be distributing certificates of land ownership to farmer beneficiaries during his visit. — Jenina P. Ibañez