DOT OFFERS ONLINE “ENHANCED OPPORTUNITY” TRAINING FOR TOURISM STAKEHOLDERS

MEDIA RELEASE

April 16, 2020

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has launched an online training program for the country’s tourism stakeholders to stay relevant, learn to cope with the difficulties arising from the global pandemic novel coronavirus or COVID–19, and to facilitate transition to recovery.

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo–Puyat said the program dubbed DOT Online Training is done via Zoom video–conferencing and offers the stakeholders an option to use their time productively during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which has been extended to April 30.

“The DOT is developing online courses for tourism stakeholders. This conceptualized as an alternative to the regular training programs being conducted by the Office of Industry Manpower Development. This our vision in embracing a new normal for our industry,” said Puyat.

The tourism chief added that the course covers two subject areas: 1) Tourism Enterprise which involves monitoring, evaluating and learning from past and present situations to enable tourism stakeholders to prepare better for the future; and 2) Filipino Brand of Service which applies the seven Filipino values or “7Ms” that characterize Filipino hospitality, namely May Likha, Makatao, Makakalikasan, Makabansa, Masayahin, May–Bayanihan and May–Pag–asa.

“We can turn the temporary inactivity during lockdown into an opportunity to enhance the quality of tourist services. We can objectively look back at our past and current performance and utilize the breathing space to plan how we can further upgrade our services in our respective areas in the industry with the values of Filipino hospitality,” said Secretary Puyat.

The DOT Chief enjoined the tourism stakeholders to participate in the online training program, adding that the DOT is set to develop additional modules on other topics.

“The DOT will continue to develop other online courses to enhance skills, assist and encourage stakeholders to cope, transition and move towards recovery”.

For more information, visit DOT Trains FB Page

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DOT OUTLINES TOURISM RESPONSE, POST–COVID 19 RECOVERY PLAN TO AID PRIVATE SECTOR

MEDIA RELEASE

April 15, 2020

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo–Puyat assures the public that the Department of Tourism (DOT) is doing everything within its mandate to aid the stakeholders of the country’s tourism industry in light of the COVID–19 pandemic.

The assertion comes on the heels of the appeal of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) for government to provide aid to local travel agencies weathering the impact of the Covid–19 pandemic.

Puyat noted that some points and suggestions raised by the PTAA have been incorporated in the Tourism Response and Recovery Program as well as incentives lined up by the DOT and its attached agencies to help tourism–related businesses and their work force get back on their feet.

“To cushion the impact, the DOT and its attached agencies, even before the lockdown, laid out the response and recovery plan during the initial stages of the COVID–19 outbreak in the country with the tourism sector taking a direct hit early on,” Secretary Puyat added, noting that the DOT will be extending a wide range of assistance not only to tour operators, but to the entire travel and hospitality sector.

The DOT’s immediate response actions include the implementation of a moratorium on the collection of accreditation fees from new and renewing applicants from Tourism Enterprises (TEs) and Tourism–Related Enterprises (TREs) for the year 2020. The DOT and the Tourism Promotions Board have also waived the participation fees in international fairs and exhibitions between now and the end of 2021.

Also among the immediate response of DOT was mounting its own 20 sweeper flights and assisting those by embassies that helped many of the travel trade’s clients leave the country. As of 14 April 2020, the DOT was able to extend assistance to 19,898 foreign tourists and 1,456 domestic tourists.

The DOT was also able to assist the OWWA in looking for rooms for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies, and bank workers. As of 13 April 2020, the DOT was able to find a total of 13,116 rooms in the NCR for OFWs and 25,687 rooms for BPO agents, bank workers, and health frontliners.

The DOT also submitted to the Department of Labor (DOLE) the list of displaced workers from various tourism–related enterprises for cash assistance. Along with other industries, employees of tourism enterprises will be provided with a 5 to 8 thousand peso wage subsidy per worker under DOF’s program.

The agency likewise lobbied with the DOLE to include tourism front–liners among the recipients of Hazard Pay for the duration of the ECQ, especially those who work at accommodation establishments that house health workers and repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and risk contamination to COVID–19.

In response to to the appeal of the travel industry, the DOT has also been communicating with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to provide rehabilitation financing support such as, but not limited to, extending low interest loans for tourism enterprises that have been severely affected by the COVID–19. Relative to this, the DBP has identified the tourism industry under COVID–19 as qualifying under its program called Rehabilitation Support Program on Severe Events or RESPONSE, which aims to provide rehabilitation financing support through low interest loans to business, which have been adversely affected by calamities. The Land Bank of the Philippines will also assist tourism stakeholders under its program called: Rehabilitation Support to Cushion Unfavorably Affected Enterprises by Covid–19 (I–RESCUE) Lending Program.

The department has also made appropriate representation with the Social Security System (SSS), PAGIBIG Fund, and PhilHealth for the deferment of tourism workers’ contributions. Upon these representations Philhealth has agreed to extend the deadline to remit the members’ savings/contributions until two weeks after the lifting of the ECQ without any penalty. PAGIBIG has also agreed to extend its deadline of payment of premium contributions for the first quarter of 2020 to 30 April 2020. Social Security System agreed to extend the deadline for the remittance of contributions until 01 June 2020.

On the other hand, for the requested deferment of corporate income tax payments by the BIR, as well as other interventions which require the action of other government agencies, the DOT has made the necessary representation with the proper government agencies for these interventions and will follow up on behalf of the travel industry.

As for the association’s request for rent and utility discounts, and travel agency commission from airlines, these are normally matters governed by contracts between private parties, and not subject to government intervention, but they can be subject of legislation which can provide financing or subsidies therefor. The same thing may be said for the association’s request for salary and travel tour expo subsidies. All these matters will be raised by the DOT to the Congress which is also currently considering a bill granting a fiscal stimulus package to the tourism industry.

The DOT assures its tourism stakeholders that it will continue to extend them assistance to cushion the impact of the crisis on the industry.

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Filipino Food Movement launches an online campaign, supporting Filipino chefs and restaurants

The community organization rallies behind purveyors of cuisine during the COVID-19

lockdown period. 

Featured Content by The Filipino Food Movement

Media Release

April 7, 2020


(San Francisco, CA) — For the foreseeable future, everyday life and business around the world have changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the numerous, significantly impacted sectors are American Filipino restaurants and chefs, whose collective work has strongly influenced the American food scene.  As social distancing and the quarantine continue, businesses pivot their models, and adapt from in-house dining to take out and delivery services. This change is the impetus for two campaigns led by the Filipino Food Movement that will launch this week — Support Filipino Takeout and Kulinarya LIVE!

Support Filipino Takeout is a call to action for all Filipino restaurants and food purveyors to submit their menus to the Filipino Food Movement which will be made available via the nonprofit’s social media platforms. The national directory aims to make Filipino food accessible to a nation that continues to stay at home. Chefs, food entrepreneurs, and restaurateurs can submit their info here: https://bit.ly/2wqrwkA

On social media, the Filipino food scene has shown a significant uptick in activity and interest with daily menus, food photography, cooking demonstrations, and a constant search for easy recipes to make at home. 

On April 9, at 12 pm Pacific, Filipino Food Movement will premiere a live-streamed series, Kulinarya Live! The series will bring Filipino chefs from around the world into mobile phones and screens, streaming over Facebook (@filipinofoodmovement.) Its first live stream features a multi-awarded San Francisco chef, Francis Ang of Pinoy Heritage

“The idea was to utilize our social media reach to promote Filipino food business. Each chef or restauranteur is encouraged to compete in the digital space. We want to amplify their voices,” shared Sonia Delen, President of the Filipino Food Movement. “We hope that both projects continue to push the presence of Filipino cuisine in the global food scene and bring comfort and enjoyment to Filipinos all over the world.”

Filipino Food Movement is a community-based organization that was formed in 2014 to generate broad awareness, appreciation, and enhanced investment in Filipino culinary arts. Its mission is to support Filipino cuisine and its purveyors to create a recognizable footprint in the mainstream food scene. 

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Media Contact: 
Wennie Conedy
Wennie@filipinofoodmovement.org

DOT PROVIDES VIRTUAL BACKGROUNDS FOR VIDEO CALLS TO ENCOURAGE “TRAVEL FROM HOME”

MEDIA RELEASE

April 4, 2020

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) is encouraging the public to “travel from home” by providing virtual backgrounds that people can feature in video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Webex, and many more.

The photos can be downloaded from www.philippines.travel/fromhome for free and will allow users to showcase the beautiful landscapes of the Philippines from the safety and comfort of one’s home.

The “Travel From Home” virtual backgrounds take you to some of the most popular travel spots in the country and are arranged to reflect the relevant times of day do you can have your early morning meeting with a glorious mountain sunrise and your evening one with a golden beach sunset.

The DOT reminds everyone that while our destinations miss you, it’s vital that you stay at home as much as possible during the community quarantine so you can return to your favorite places in the Philippines soon.

#TravelFromHome

#SaveOurSpots

#WeHealAsOne

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Fil-Am director Dean Devlin’s ‘Almost Paradise’ is the first-ever American TV series shot in the Philippines

Featured Content by Asian Journal Press

March 30, 2020

Christian Kane, Samantha Richelle and Arthur Acuña star in WGN America’s “Almost Paradise.” | Photo courtesy of Electric Entertainment

The first-ever American TV series filmed entirely in the Philippines debuts on Monday, March 30 on WGN America.

“Almost Paradise” is an action-thriller show created, written and produced by award-winning Filipino American filmmaker Dean Devlin.

Known for his work on “Independence Day,” “Godzilla, “Leverage,” and “The Librarians,” this is Devlin’s first project involving his Filipino roots.

The series is centered around Alex Walker (Christian Kane, “The Librarians” and “Angel”), a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who goes into early retirement and moves to a beach in the Philippines he remembers visiting years ago. Alex finds himself drawn into cases where he uses his skills as a longtime operative to put away the bad guys that cross his path.

The idea came to Devlin during his honeymoon in Hawaii some 14 years ago when the local news had a story about residents capturing a drug dealer on their own.

“It just got me thinking about island justice, island culture and island spirituality. I always said, ‘I really would like to write something about that,’” Devlin told the Asian Journal. “Over the years, I thought, ‘Why do it in Hawaii?’ I’m half Filipino and I’ve never done anything connected to my own culture so when the idea came to put this story in the Philippines then things started to accelerate quite quickly.”

Beyond the “poverty porn” and other stereotypical notions people may have about the Philippines, Devlin didn’t want to make the storyline about the current political climate and the controversial drug war.

“To be able to bring things from the culture — the looks, the costumes, the traditions — and put that seamlessly in a very American show…one of the goals here is not to say that Filipinos are the other. The goal is to say Filipinos are us and we’re all part of the same beautiful community,” he said.

Filipino American producer and filmmaker, Dean Devlin. | Photo courtesy of Electric Entertainment

As for the challenges that came with filming in the country, Devlin joked, saying “The better question is what wasn’t the challenge?” His production company, Electric Entertainment, partnered with ABS-CBN and built a soundstage at Bigfoot Studios in Cebu.

Thankfully, the production had finished and left the Philippines before the government stopped international flights because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We literally wrapped production 18 hours before they stopped the international flights. It was crazy. It felt like we were on the top of that building in Saigon during the fall of Vietnam trying to get the last helicopter out. But we finished the season,” Devlin said.

The 10-episode series, shot in the island of Cebu, features a predominantly Filipino cast and crew. Actors Samantha Richelle and Arthur Acuña star as detectives Kai Mendoza and Ernesto Alamares, respectively.

When Devlin and Kane took a trip to Manila to scout local talent, Richelle auditioned for the role of Kai Mendoza upon the recommendation of Dela Torre and blew them away.

Samantha Richelle as Kai Mendoza in “Almost Paradise.” | Photo courtesy of Electric Entertainment

“In me preparing for the role of Kai, I literally fell in love with her…She’s such a ballsy character, but yet also very sympathetic. It was just amazing to be able to delve into that,” Richelle told the Asian Journal, adding that a week before filming began, she did combat training and learned how to shoot.

“You’ll see in the show, every episode we pushed a little bit farther on [how] she can go as an actor and every time we raised the expectations, Samantha reached it. This character really develops over the course of the season and this is no easy acting job,” Devlin said. “She’s really the breakout actor on this show.”

Filmmakers Francis Dela Torre, Hannah Espia, Dan Villegas and Irene Villamor directed several episodes; meanwhile, Pao Orendain served as director of photography and Digo Ricio as production designer.

“This is a very intense American way of doing a TV series…This crew was amazingly responsive because this was not in their comfort zone at all. It’s not the way that they do shows in the Philippines. They were all eager to learn [and]…they all kind of wanted to show what they could do,” Devlin added.

With more Filipino faces on an American network, Devlin sees it as a way to usher in more Filipino representation.

“There’s been a wonderful explosion of diversity in entertainment over the last few years. But the Asian community in general — and the Filipino community in specific — has really been left behind that. We wanted to be part of the energy that’s correcting that and part of pushing us into the spotlight and saying, ‘Hey, take a look. I think you’re gonna like what you see,’” he said.

“Almost Paradise” airs on WGN America at 10 p.m. ET.

DOT RESPONSE TEAMS ASSIST OVER 10,000 TRAVELERS

MEDIA RELEASE

March 24, 2020

MANILA – At least 10,300 individuals, mostly foreign travelers affected by the enhanced community quarantine, have been assisted as of Tuesday, March 24, 2020 by the Department of Tourism (DOT), Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat disclosed.

A virtual COVID-19 command center coordinated the skeletal workforce of the DOT regional offices throughout the country.

From this number, 7,915 are tourists assisted through sweeper flights that transported stranded tourists from various destinations to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Clark International Airport, in joint efforts with Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Asia and Air Swift. Chartered flights were also made available to move stranded tourists.

“The Department of Tourism has been doing everything within its resources to ease the congestion in the different regions by facilitating the movement of foreign tourists stranded in the different islands of the country,” stressed Secretary Puyat.

Five sweeper flights carried stranded tourists out of Siargao to Clark Airport last Saturday and Sunday.

At least four sweeper flights will fly out of Boracay Island over the weekend, with two more scheduled on Thursday March 26. Meanwhile, additional sweeper flights will fly out of Iloilo, Tacloban, and Cagayan de Oro tomorrow, March 25.

Three sweeper flights are set to leave from Davao and Puerto Princesa on March 26.

Meanwhile, DOT regional offices are facilitating the transport of travelers by land in Luzon and by sea with inter-island vessels, like the Philippine Coast Guard boats used to sail tourists from the islands of Bohol, Siguijor, and Negros to Cebu.

Also arranged were shuttle services and hotel accommodations provided to some stranded tourists. Free food and hygienic items, called MalasaKits, were distributed at the NAIA terminals.

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DOT Welcomes Lifting of Travel Ban For Outbound Passengers

MEDIA RELEASE

18 March 2020

The Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomed the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to lift the 72-hour window for individuals departing overseas.

DOT coordinated with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employments to provide the joint guidelines for the lifting of the ban.

OFWs, Balikbayans, and foreign nationals will be allowed to leave at any time during the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon, provided they travel only to the airport within 24 hours of the date and time of their departure. Outgoing passengers must provide documents of their departure, such as an electronic ticket or flight itinerary.

Filipino citizens are strictly not allowed to take outbound international flight to countries where travel restrictions are in place. 

Outbound passengers may be accompanied only by one companion/driver to and from the airport, who shall likewise carry a copy of such e-ticket or itinerary. 

Select Hotels To Remain Open

Hotels and similar establishments shall remain closed under the guidelines of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, except for the following: 

1. those with foreign guests that have existing booking accommodations as of March 17, 2020;

2.those with checked-in guests on long-term leases; 

3.those accommodating employees from exempted establishments under the provisions of the March 16, 2020 Memorandum from the Executive secretary.

Hotels and similar establishments except for those classified in #3 above are not allowed to accept new bookings.

Assistance to All Tourists

The DOT has created a Tourism Airport Team to provide 24-hour service to tourists at airport including assistance in arranging flights, securing bookings, transportation, meals and accommodation. DOT is in close collaboration with local government unit (LGU) officers, local airport staff and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for this effort.

The Regional Offices of DOT have been proactive in informing tourism stakeholders such as hotels, island resorts, tour operators and local government units to communicate the intensified travel restrictions of the Enhanced Community Quarantine to foreign tourists in each destination, especially those in remote islands.

“The DOT is committed to working with all stakeholders, especially the LGUs and the inter-agency task force (IATF), in ensuring that the safety and the needs of our domestic and international tourists are addressed and resolved,” stated Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

Please visit the official Philippines travel advisory website for more updates. https://philippines.travel/safeph

#SafeTravelsPH

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Philippine Travel Advisory

March 14, 2020

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its travelers. Please be guided by the major updates regarding travel-related activities in the Philippines.

Under the stringent Social Distancing Measures being imposed in the National Capital Region (NCR) for 30 days starting 00:00 AM of 15 March 2020 until 00:00 AM of 14 April 2020, the following will apply:

● All land, domestic air and domestic sea travel to and from the NCR are restricted.

● All departing passengers shall be allowed transit through the NCR, provided that proof of confirmed international travel itinerary, scheduled within twelve (12) hours from entry, is presented at checkpoints. However, outbound travel to countries where travel restrictions are in place remains prohibited.

● All travel restrictions previously issued shall remain in effect. Current travel restrictions imposed are on foreign travel to and from China, including its Special Administrative Regions (SARs) Hong Kong and Macau, and the North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea including Daegu and Cheongdo

● Travellers from Iran and Italy (except Filipino citizens, including their foreign spouse and children, if any, and holders of Permanent Resident Visas or 9(e) Diplomatic Visas issued by the Philippine Government) shall be required to present a medical certificate issued by competent medical authorities within forty-eight (48) hours immediately preceding departure signifying that they have tested negative for COVID-19.

● The various local government units (LGUs) of destinations in the Philippines are required to abide by the directives of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the imposition of general community quarantine guidelines in their respective jurisdictions.

As such, some destinations may already restrict tourists from entering in order to contain and prevent further spread of the virus.

● Mass gatherings such as movie screenings, concerts, sporting events and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work-related gatherings shall be prohibited

Please visit the official Philippines travel advisory website for more updates. https://philippines.travel/safeph

#SafeTravelsPH

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STATEMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM (DOT) on COVID-19 local transmission

MEDIA RELEASE

March 9, 2020

In light of recently reported community transmissions of COViD-19, the Department of Tourism (DOT) calls on all tourism industry stakeholders to remain calm, to be constantly updated and to report suspected cases to local health authorities.

The DOT defers to the Department of Health (DOH) as lead agency of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, for decisions and announcements pertaining to the COVID-19 concern.

Needless to say, the DOT has the safety and well-being of visitors and locals as its utmost priority. As such, it will continue to coordinate and work closely with the IATF, partners from other government agencies and the private sector to mitigate the impact of the disease.

The DOT continuously issues health protocols for the airports, hotel establishments and tour operators to cascade guidelines to make sure that precautionary measures are in place in order to contain the spread of the virus in the country. Among those measures include thermal scanners at the entrance, provision of hand sanitizers and food preparation based on global Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) standards. DOT-accredited hotels are continuously cleaning and sanitizing premises, particularly the common and frequently used areas.

Tourists are directed to visit the DOT’s travel advisory bulletin at www.philippines.travel/safeph in order to know the consolidated efforts of the Philippine tourism industry to contain the spread of the COVID-19 and maintain the safety and well-being of visitors.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat likewise enjoins the industry to extend any assistance possible to affected tourists in their respective areas.

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DOT welcomes lifting of Taiwan travel ban

MEDIA RELEASE

February 14, 2020

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomes the lifting of the travel ban on Taiwan to minimize the impact of the nCov global scare on the local tourism industry.

“The lifting of the travel ban on Taiwan is highly assuring and we hope that the nCov crisis would soon be resolved, worldwide. Ultimately, the recovery of all affected countries is a universal prayer, especially that tourism is an inclusive and sustainable business for and of the people,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette-Romulo-Puyat.

The temporary ban on Taiwan was lifted by the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases after it was established that Taiwan has been implementing very strict and excellent protocols in handing travelers.

The Task Force underscores the need to review on a regular basis how the Philippines’ source countries heighten precautionary measures and implement stricter protocols to contain the corona virus disease (COVID-19).

Taiwan is the country’s fifth largest tourist source market raking up an impressive double-digit increase of 37.07 percent for its 305,570 arrivals in Jan. to Nov. 2019.

All preventive and precautionary measures have been put in place by the national government to contain the spread of the COVID-19. The guidelines in handling guests in tourism enterprises during this global emergency are being implemented in hotels and resorts around the country and facilities are equipped with infrared thermometers and more hand sanitizers.

The temporary entry ban for tourists coming from China, its Special Administrative Regions (SARs), Hong Kong and Macau, and the 14-day quarantine for Filipinos coming from the said places is still in effect.

Meanwhile, the tourism sector rallied behind the DOT to mitigate impact on inbound tourism by rolling out a tactical program that will offer more value-added tour packages, discounted accommodation rates and marked-down prices for domestic flights.

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CLARIFICATION OF CAB ORDER DATED 2 FEBRUARY 2020 IMPLEMENTING THE TRAVEL BAN DIRECTIVE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE SAME DATE

CAB Order dated 2 February 2020, relating to the travel ban as contained in the Presidential directive of 2 February 2020, includes Taiwan.

Airlines are therefore directed to adopt proper measures and put in place appropriate systems to fully implement the temporary travel ban restricting the entry into the Philippines of the following persons coming from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

This Order applies to the following:

  • Temporary ban on entry into the Philippines of any person regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visas issued by the Philippine Government directly coming from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan;
  • Temporary ban on entry into the Philippines of any person regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visas issued by the Philippine Government, who within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, has been to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan;
  • Temporary ban on Filipinos from travel to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

Airlines directly operating between these territories and the Philippines, as well as those connecting to the Philippines via these territories are hereby reminded to strictly comply with the requirement to file with the Board any changes, revisions, cancellations of their flight schedule and to regularly update the Board on the status of these flights.

For strict compliance.
Done this 10th of February 2020.

CARMELO L. ARCILLA
Executive Director