The Department of Tourism has so far helped mount over 20 so-called sweeper flights to help thousands of foreign tourists return to their home countries after the coronavirus pandemic virtually shut down international commercial air travel.

In a statement, the office of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that domestic tourists were also able to return to their home provinces on some local chartered flights arranged by the department.

“To date, the DOT was able to extend assistance to 19,898 foreign tourists and 1,456 domestic tourists,” her office said.

In addition to this, the tourism department was also able to help the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration secure rooms for returning Filipino workers who are stranded in Metro Manila, along with workers from banks and call centers.

As of mid-April, the DOT was able to find a total of 13,116 rooms in Metro Manila for overseas Filipino workers and 25,687 rooms for call center agents, bank workers and health care workers, the statement said.

The DOT said it has also submitted to the Department of Labor the list of displaced workers from tourism-related enterprises who are eligible for cash assistance.

Along with other industries, eligible employees of tourism enterprises will be given wage subsidies of P5,000 to P8,000 per worker under the program of the Department of Finance.

The agency also lobbied with the labor department the inclusion of tourism front line workers as recipients of hazard pay for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, especially those who work in hotels or lodging houses where health workers and repatriated Filipino workers are booked.

On Wednesday (April 15), the DOT said it is doing everything within its mandate to aid stakeholders in the country’s travel and leisure industry in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

This reassurance was made after the Philippine Travel Agencies Association aired an appeal for the government to provide aid to local travel firms to help them weather the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Puyat said some points and suggestions raised by the PTAA have been incorporated in the Tourism Response and Recovery Program.

Those were also in incentives lined up by the DOT and attached agencies to help tourism-related businesses and their work force get back on their feet.

Edited by TSB


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