By Phil Muslims
MANILA: Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has assured hotel owners that the Duterte administration is doing all it can to support the revival of more robust hospitality and tourism sectors in the post-pandemic era, while scaling up the country’s mass vaccination program to protect people and prepare for the safe reopening of the economy.
While he cannot predict when the pandemic will be over to allow for the economy’s full reopening, Dominguez said he can assure the hotel industry of the government’s readiness to support local businesses through expanded credit, lower interest rates, and by maintaining fiscal prudence in managing the country’s financial resources.
Dominguez also cited the enactment of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, which will leave more cash resources for businesses to sustain employment or use for investments, as another measure that will help the tourism and hospitality sectors bounce back from the pandemic.
“In the meantime, I urge the hotel industry to take this opportunity to maintain infrastructure systems; strengthen health and safety protocols; and embrace digitalization to be ready for the upcoming demand in travel,” he said in his message to members of the Philippine Hotel Owners Association, Inc. (PHOA) during their webinar with the theme “How Philippine Hoteliers Navigate the COVID Crisis to Survive.”
“Be assured that the Duterte administration is doing all that it can to support the revival of even more robust hospitality and tourism industries in the post-pandemic era,” he added.
Dominguez commended the PHOA, led by its president Arthur Lopez, for leading the pack in ensuring that hoteliers are responsibly adhering to the highest levels of hygiene and safety, which is vital in rebuilding consumer confidence and in making their customers feel safe, confident and secure enough to go out of their homes and spend on goods and services during less stringent quarantine periods.
He acknowledged that the hospitality and tourism industries have been the hardest hit by the imposition of movement restrictions that are necessary to contain infections since the pandemic swept across the world over a year ago.
“The crisis is not over. The virus continues to mutate, keeping us all on edge. The threat posed by the Delta variant of the coronavirus forced us to escalate restrictions once more,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said the success of the country’s anti-COVID-19 vaccination program is the key to a strong and sustained economic recovery.
He said the Philippines is on the right track as it has now been receiving a steady supply of vaccines from multiple sources and the local government units (LGUs) have proven their ability to administer vaccines on a wide scale in a fast and efficient manner.
“I wish I could give you a clear timetable for fully reopening the domestic economy. But, as you know, the virus dictates our timelines. It will continue to do so until we are able to inoculate the majority of our population,” Dominguez said.
“We have endured much since the outbreak of this pandemic. Nevertheless, every indicator tells us that we have gone through the worst part of this global health emergency,” he said.