Senators mull higher DoT budget

The Department of Tourism may get more than its proposed P3.573 billion budget for 2023 if Senators JV Ejercito and Grace Poe will have their way.

During the deliberation on the DoT’s proposed budget by the Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee “J,” Poe noticed that the tourism sector’s P2.48 billion contribution to the country’s gross domestic product or 12.8 percent of the country’s total economy seems not commensurate to the funding it was seeking.

“That’s quite a substantial number (P2.48 billion) and yet the budget that you’re [asking] is quite minuscule. I think maybe not now but, moving forward, I think that you should get a bigger share of the budget,” Poe said.

During the hearing, DoT Secretary Christina Frasco presented the budget appropriations of other tourism agencies in the ASEAN region showing that the Philippines has $49 million in tourism promotions budget compared to Indonesia’s $358 million.

“That probably explains the way they (ASEAN members) market their countries. It’s really advertising all over the world, ‘no. But given the meager budget that we have, we can still improve a lot,” remarked Ejercito.

For his part, Senator Koko Pimentel said, “We have to equip you to do what you have to do to promote the Philippines in your plans.”

Pimentel committed to study and explore how the DoT can fully maximize fund sources such as the Special Account in the General Fund of the Tourism Promotions Board to support its plans and programs for the country’s tourism industry recovery.

Frasco thanked the subcommittee headed by Senator Nancy Binay and other senators for expressing support to the Department’s seven-point agenda and three key strategies to revitalize the Philippine tourism industry in the coming years.

“I have high hopes that, with the support of the Senate, the Tourism Department will receive the budget that it needs to fulfill the vision of the President and the programs that we have prepared. The amount that you’ll be granting to us will redound to benefit millions of Filipinos in terms of new employment, new businesses, recovery of lost livelihood, and lost economic opportunities,” she said.

Meanwhile, Frasco told the panel that the DoT’s existing marketing slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” will evolve.

“The trends of the world market as far as travelers are concerned are that post-pandemic, they now wish for more immersive, substantial, and experiential tours and travel experiences. We fully intend that in this evolution, we will make sure that the Philippines will continue to be fun and at the same time also herald the best qualities of the Filipino brand,” Frasco said.

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