• Lawmakers ask DOT to raise 2017 budget

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    THE senate finance committee holding hearings on the 2017 budget allocation has raised questions about the reason for slashing the allocation for the Department of Tourism by 32 percent from the 2016 allocation of P3.66 billion.

    Considering that the DOT is targeting to attract some 6.5 million foreign tourists besides some 73.3 million domestic travelers in 2017, the senate president pro-tempore, Franklin Drilon, said he had expected DOT to ask for an increase in next year’s budget.

    When it unveiled the proposed 2017 budget, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had said that the reason for slashing the allocation for DOT to P2.49 billion was that the money spent by the previous DOT administration was much less than the amount allocated.

    Of the P2.49-billion allocation in 2017, P218.79 million is for the DOT’s attached agencies National Parks Development Committee and P42.37 million for the Intramuros Administration while a special provision of P4.58 million goes to a tourism development fund for promotion, and marketing of tourism in the country, and some P150 million from the net profits of the Duty Free Philippines will be used for tourism-related projects and activities.

    However, Drilon told the tourism secretary, Wanda Teo, to increase the budget, particularly the allocation for marketing, which is set at P300 million compared with P1.1 billion in 2016.

    The committee has approved DOT’s 2017 budget proposal “with augmentation.” It means that the agency needs only submit a branding and media campaign to get the needed raise in the budget.

    DOT Undersecretary Katherine de Castro, is happy with the initiative to increase the budget allocation for DOT which is indicative of the lawmakers’ positive outlook about the potential tourism hold for the country’s economic growth.

    “On the whole, the meeting was a breath of fresh air for us, a boost in the arm, as our lawmakers themselves see the tourism sector’s 8 percent contribution to our country’s gross domestic product and that it generates job for many Filipinos, despite the lower budget allocation compared to other government agencies,” she added.

    Committee chair Loren Legarda has high hopes that Philippine tourism would eventually be in the same league with India and Malaysia in terms of branding and media exposure on major international channels worldwide.

    The senator also said that DOT work closely with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in addressing issues of environmental degradation, sustainability of natural resources, and cleanliness, especially in Palawan, Boracay and Bohol.

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