Assistant Tourism Secretary Benito “Bong” Bengzon is confident that the P788-million budget cut will not affect to the department’s operations.
Benzon said that there was a big slice in their budget after the substantial allocation for the transfer of their office in 2013 was removed in the 2014 proposed budget, adding that a bulk of promotions budget is now in marketing and promotions.
“What is important here is for people to understand that the budget was allocated for 2013 in as much as we expect the transfer to be completed before the end of the year, then there would be no need to allocate a budget for the transfer in 2014,” Benzon said.
Before end-2013, DOT will transfer to their new home in Makati, City while the DOT building will be converted to a National Museum of Natural History.
“This building is too precious to be just an office,” Benzon said, quoting Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.
He added that some funds allocated for their office was transferred to the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) responsible for marketing and promotions of the department’s projects.
“Some of the activities and programs originally part of DOT proposed budget has been transferred to TPB … the bulk of promotions budget is now in the TPB.”
Also more than P430 million was reduced under the branding campaign program of the DOT.
In 2013, a P1-billion fund was allocated by the government to the branding program of the DOT—“It’s More Fun in the Philippines”—which under the 2014 proposed budget was trimmed to P570 million.
Benzon further boasted that their campaign has boosted the tourism industry making the country a significant tourism player globally.
“If you’ve seen how the campaign has evolved and ran over the past one-and-a-half year we created a momentum already and we brought it to an awareness level that makes the Philippines a significant player in global tourism,” Benzon said.
The branding campaign “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” was launched in Jan. of last year.
Benzon also acknowledged the efforts of the people in supporting their campaign through the influence of the new media and using “mems” attached to the branding campaign.
“We always say that this is not just a campaign of the DOT, but the people’s campaign.
We are happy with the way Filipinos have embraced this campaign … the way they taken a very active role in helping promote the Philippines,” Benzon said.
“What differentiates this campaign than those have been mounted by our competitors is the fact that Filipinos have gone out of their way to help develop their content,” Benzon added.
Meanwhile, Benzon said that disasters that struck in the Philippines have not impeded the flow of foreign tourists.