With the effect of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the global tourism industry accelerating rapidly, Senator Richard Gordon on Saturday stressed the need to implement the Holiday Economics Law to boost domestic tourism.
But Health Sec. Francisco Duque III earlier reminded the public to avoid crowded places as the nationwide mall sale nears.
“Our advisory remains. If it can be helped, we discourage people from going to places where there is quite a volume of people just to make sure that there is no increased risk,” he said.
“If it will be continued, consistent with our advisory, disinfection procedures must be followed. The availability of disinfectants must be there—provided by the mall management,” he added.
Duque said it would also be better if thermal guns are available to monitor the body temperature of shoppers entering the malls.
A month-long nationwide sale in March was organized by the Department of Tourism in a bid to encourage tourists to visit the country. It has been scheduled way before the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak started.
On the other hand, Gordon pointed out that with tourism experts’ warning that the impact of the COVID-19 on tourism that is being felt across Asia could ripple into 2021, it would be advantageous to implement Republic Act 9492 or the Holiday Economics Law because it boosted domestic tourism when it was implemented before.
“Domestic tourism thrived when it was implemented during the Arroyo administration.”
In 2018, he said domestic trips totaled to 111,350,293 or an annual growth of 15.1 percent.
This figure, Gordon said, could increase further if holidays that fall on weekdays would be observed on the nearest Monday instead because it would allow people more time for travel across the country.
“It would also give families more time to spend together,” he said.
RA 9492 provides that in the event the holiday falls on a Wednesday, the holiday will be observed on the Monday of the week.
“If the holiday falls on a Sunday, the holiday will be observed on the Monday that follows: Provided, that for movable holidays, the President shall issue a proclamation, at least six months prior to the holiday concerned, the specific date that shall be declared as a nonworking day.”
The senator, who authored and sponsored the law which was enacted in 2007, noted that implementing the law would also open up more local business opportunities, especially if it would be announced in advance at the beginning of the year so that businessmen can prepare.
He added that the previous implementation of the law gave rise to the Airbnb industry.
During the 2020 Budget Deliberations, Gordon, a former Tourism secretary and Finance Vice Chairman tasked to oversee the Fiscal 2020 Budget of the DOT, pushed for an increase in the budget of the Tourism Regional Offices to boost regional tourism, similar to the WOW Philippines program that he launched during his stint at the DOT which showed the “Best of the Regions.”
In a related development, local air carrier Cebu Pacific earlier announced that it would use larger planes, add more flights and impose fare reductions for more than 70 domestic destinations to encourage Philippine residents to travel and explore the country./Stacy Ang