Duterte: Push tourism amid nCoV outbreak

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    PRESIDENT Duterte has urged local airlines and tourism industry players to promote tourist destinations in the country as an alternative to tourist areas abroad amid the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV), Malacañang said yesterday.

    The President, accompanied by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat and Sen. Christopher Go, met Monday night with tourism industry stakeholders at the SMX Convention Center at the MOA Complex in Pasay City.

    The President expressed optimism that like other epidemics, nCoV will eventually be contained.

    “The President wants Filipinos to visit the country’s local tourist destinations to boost the industry in the midst of the coronavirus scare. The 2019 nCoV has affected more than a dozen countries around the world. The Philippine tourism industry has a lot to offer,” Malacañang said in a press release.

    Malacañang said the country’s major airlines and hotels, in response to the call of the President, agreed to offer more discounted rates to the public to make a viable market for tourists.

    The Department of Tourism said it will intensify its marketing and promotions domestically and internationally, in key markets such as South Korea, the United States and Japan, and opportunity and emerging markets that cover Western Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the CIS, and neighboring Southeast Asian Countries.

    The DOT and the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP), which represents the country’s tourism stakeholders, assured foreign and domestic tourists the Philippines remains a safe destination for travel.

    In a statement, the DOT and the TCP said preventive and precautionary measures are in place to prevent the spread of nCoV, including temporarily barring tourists from China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, and Taiwan, and a 14-day quarantine for Filipinos coming from those places.

    Earlier, the DOT released guidelines in handling guests in tourism enterprises amid the threat of nCoV.

    To mitigate the economic impact of the nCoV crisis, the tourism sector has agreed to roll out a tactical program that will offer more value-added tour packages, discounted accommodation rates, and marked-down prices for domestic flights.

    Among those present at the meeting were Philippine Hotel Owners Association president Arthur Lopez, AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricardo Isla, Philippine Airlines president Gilbert Sta. Maria, Cebu Pacific Air president and CEO Lance Gokongwei, Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato, and Tourism Assistant Secretary Howard Lance Uyking.