THE Department of Tourism (DoT) was pressed to spend more of its funding in the regions and to consider more local input in formulating its programs.

In a budget hearing, the DoT was questioned by Senator Richard J. Gordon about the alleged Metro Manila-centric focus of its spending plans. Mr. Gordon told reporters after the hearing that he estimates that 90.7% of the DoT’s proposed 2020 budget of P3.85 billion will be spent in the National Capital Region.

“We said to them dagdagan nila ang budget sa (to increase the budget for) local because (the regional offices) know where the destinations are and who the players are.

Mr. Gordon said the other 15 regions have been allocated less than 1% from the DoT. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was not included in the regional breakdown.

He added that DoT’s branding content or tourism marketing will be ineffective if it does not take in any input from the regions.

Paano kayo magkakaroon ng content kung ang pera ninyo ay nasa Manila (How will you generate marketing content if your money is in Manila)?… NCR alone has 90.7% in the budget and only 10% of the total budget is (allocated) to the regions,” he said during the hearing.

The DoT’s budget is 12.7% higher than its 2019 funding. Some 68% of its spending will go to the Market and Product Development Program, of which half will go to a branding campaign.

The DoT said in 2020 it hopes to expand its global promotion of Philippine tourism and expand its range of source countries for visitor arrivals.

DoT also aims to assist local government units (LGUs) in drafting sustainable tourism development plans and develop new tourism products. The department also hopes to encourage the industry to invest more in staff training. — Gillian M. Cortez