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Palace calls for more domestic travel to aid economic recovery

PHILIPPINE STAR/ RUDY SANTOS

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. called for more domestic travel to help revive the tourism industry, which he called a critical component of the government’s post-pandemic recovery plan.

In a video blog (vlog) released on Saturday, Mr. Marcos said domestic travel accounted for a large chunk of Philippine tourism receipts.

“I will continue encouraging all of you to visit our beautiful tourist spots,” Mr. Marcos said, particularly during the four-day holiday next week.

Last week, Mr. Marcos issued a proclamation making the eve of All Saints’ Day, Oct. 31, a special nonworking holiday. The Palace has said the President wants Filipinos to spend more time with their families, particularly if they need to travel to do so.

“The reason why I declared Oct. 31 a special nonworking holiday is to give you more time with your families and plan your vacation,” Mr. Marcos said.

“From the very beginning, we identified the tourism industry as one of key drivers to boost our economy in the countryside,” he said.

The “no work, no pay” policy covers special nonworking holidays unless there are company rules or agreements “granting payment on a special day,” according to a Labor department order.

Employees asked to work on a special nonworking day should be paid a 30% premium over their regular pay for the first eight hours of work. Overtime will trigger a further 30% premium.

Mr. Marcos promised to improve connectivity to the provinces.

Tourism is among the priority industries the government plans to focus on, alongside manufacturing, agriculture, IT-BPO, and creative industries, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio S. Balisacan said at a briefing on Tuesday. 

The tourism industry accounted for 12.8% of the Philippines’ economic output in 2019, or about P2.48 trillion.

Tourism’s contribution to gross domestic product fell to 5.2% last year due to international border restrictions that were erected during the coronavirus pandemic.

Domestic tourism expenditure increased by a record 38.7% year on year to P782.51 billion in 2021, according to preliminary data released by the PSA. This was still significantly lower than the P3.14 trillion posted in 2019.

On the other hand, tourism expenditure by non-residents declined by 79.2% to P27.62 billion in 2021.

The share of inbound tourism expenditure to total exports was at a record low of 0.6% in 2021, against a 2.9% share in 2020.

Mr. Balisacan said possible recessions in developed economies and the Philippines’ economic partners would mean “weaker” travel demand. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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