Press Release
November 22, 2013


Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, judge-elect to the International Criminal Court, expressed concerns over the impact of Yolanda on tourism in the Philippines. According to the senator, Haiti experienced a significant decline in tourism after the 2010 earthquake.

In her written inquiry to the Department of Tourism during Senate plenary deliberations on the department's budget, Santiago asked, "Should we not expect the same decline in tourism in the affected areas of the Visayas region and by how much?"

In a letter response dated 20 November 2013, the department claimed that it projects only a slowdown in the arrival growth rate, but not a significant decline.

"The Philippines is in a very much different position compared to Haiti. Tourism activities continue in many of the country's different regions. Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, Iloilo, and Bacolod [remain] open for business with their respective ports of entry still accessible to tourists," the DOT said.

Santiago likewise inquired as to the department's estimate for the decline and even suggested adjusting the DOT's budget to respond to the tourism needs of affected provinces.

"We should set up a plan to keep tourism alive in the affected areas. That should be part of the rehabilitation process in order to keep the province alive," the senator said.

According to the DOT, it still estimates the average tourism growth rate to be at 6% by yearend and submits that there is no need to increase the budget for tourism.

"We believe that government resources are best allocated towards recovery and rebuilding operations in affected areas. Nonetheless, the DOT has prepared a recovery program to sustain tourism momentum," the agency said.

The DOT claimed that it will realign its budget to create and implement special market recovery plans that would focus on specific destinations, such as Boracay, Palawan, Batanes, and other areas not affected by Yolanda. The department also spearheaded the Bangon Tours, a program undertaken by travel agencies and tour operators to maintain and strengthen the health of the country's domestic tourism to push international tourism to speed up recovery.

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