CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Sep 25 - Representatives from the Tourism sector presented initial policy recommendations to support the ailing industry during the Northern Mindanao Task Force for COVID-19 Economy Task Group Meeting on September 15 via video conference.
Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, President of Promote NorMin Foundation, Inc. and one of the region's leading entrepreneurs, shared the plight of retrenchment and other grave threats that major Tourism-Related Establishments (TREs) face amid the public health crisis.
The tourism leader appeals to the government to consider "Bubble Connectivity" for local tourists or allowing groups to enter outdoor destinations, under rigid monitoring and strict compliance to health protocols.
"We could take baby steps by allowing families to book in advance and coordinate thoroughly with the establishment. This could already help us," expressed Engineer Paras.
The Task Group will hold a special meeting with TREs to come up with deliberate recommendations for endorsement to the National Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Director Mylah Faye Aurora B. Carino, CESO III, Economy Task Group Chair and National Economic and Development Authority-Regional Office X (NEDA-X) Regional Director quipped that, "We have to be regional in scope in terms of specific recommendations in order to revive the tourism industry."
NEDA-X has estimated COVID-19 effects to TREs to have reached PhP 2.66 billion from March to July 2020. This was computed based on the average number of tourist arrivals and spending of the previous year. The Department of Tourism-Regional Office X has approximated 15,000 displaced workers of the industry as of May 2020.
Moreover, the Small Business Corporation (SBC) reported that the first run of the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES I) Program has approved PhP 22.8 million for 393 applicants in the region. SBC is currently processing the second tranche of funding with 177 applicants, 16 of which are for approval, from Northern Mindanao. (NEDA10)