• Tourism department slapped with P788 million budget cut

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    The proposed 2014 budget for Department of Tourism has been reduced by P788 million, it was learned on Tuesday.

    Based on the Agency Budget Notes done by the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department of the House of Representatives, the Tourism department has been given P2.025 billion budget for 2014 or 28 percent lower than its 2013 allocation of P2.813 billion.

    The Tourism department’s allocation for Maintenance and Operating Expenses suffered the biggest decrease, making do with P1.47 billion budget for 2014 from P2.28 billion in 2013.

    The budget for Personnel Services, on the other hand, was slightly reduced to P341.8 million from P359 million in 2013.

    The good news, however, is that the Tourism department’s capital outlay will increase to P202.1 million in 2014 from P171.6 million in 2013.

    The Tourism department’s budget will be broken down to Office of the Secretary (P1.73 billion), Intramuros Administration (P34.5 million) and National Parks Development Committee (P252.7 million).

    Of the P1.73 billion budget for the Office of the Tourism Secretary, the branding campaign program More Fun in the Philippines will get the lion’s share with P570 million.

    The said P570 million funding for More Fun in the Philippines campaign program was a significant reduction from the program’s P1 billion budget for 2013.

    As for the Regional allocations, the National Capital Region will have the most budget at P312 million being the top region of destination for tourists, followed by Region 4-Calabarzon and Mimaropa (P52.2 million), Region 6-Western Visayas (P51.7 million), Region 7-Central Visayas (P48.4 million) and Region 5-Bicol Region (P35.9 million).

    But before the budget of the Tourism department was cut by P788 million in 2014, tourism targets were revised by the administration in February this year because the 35.5 million target in 2016 has already been attained in 2011 with 37.5 domestic tourists.

    As a result, the tourism target for 2016 was raised to 56.1 million domestic travellers and 10 million international visitors. This is expected to create 7.4 million jobs and generate P2.307 billion tourism receipts.

    These improvements were credited by the Congress think-tank to the following measures, namely: adoption of pocket open skies policy thru Executive Order 29 in 2011, enactment of Republic Act 10378 or rationalization of taxes imposed on foreign airlines and provision of budget support for improving road access to tourism sites under the Department of Public Works and Highways from 2011 to 2014.

    Likewise, the National Tourism Development Plan has adopted 20 tourism clusters and 78 tourism development areas by the local government units as focus areas for tourism development. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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