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Cayetano: Focus on infra project amid tourism downturn

By Ellson Quismorio

The national government should ramp up “Build, Build, Build” projects as a way of taking advantage of the expected tourism downturn as a result of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) scare.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (Alan Peter Cayetano / Facebook page/ MANILA BULLETIN)

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (Alan Peter Cayetano / Facebook page/ MANILA BULLETIN)

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said there’s a “silver lining” to the COVID-19 situation that the country is going through.

“Yung appeal ko sa economic team at sa infrastructure team, habang ‘yung uncertainty ng COVID-19 nandiyan, at habang maaapektuhan ang international tourism, agahan niyo ang pag-release at pagpapagawa ng infra projects,” Cayetano said. (My appeal to the economic team and infrastructure team is to carry on with the infra projects early while the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 remains and international tourism is affected.)

“Yes, there’s a big challenge, but there’s always a silver lining, and the silver lining now will come if we pump prime the economy by focusing on some infra projects, both small, medium, and large scale,” he said.

Cayetano explained why going full throttle on infrastructure projects under President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” initiative makes sense at this time.

“Number one, so ‘yung ibang tourism-related jobs, pwedeng tumulong sa construction. Number two, para tamaan niyo ‘yung March, April, May na tag-init, na mas maraming magagawa. Number three, pagka walang problema, walang health issues, walang weather issues, traffic everywhere…So, in the meantime, itong first two quarters, sana Build, Build, Build tayo.” (Number one, those in tourism-related jobs could help in construction. Number two, this will cover the summer months of March and April when we can accomplish more. Number three, there are no problems, no health issues, no weather issues, traffic everywhere…So, in the meantime, for these first two quarters, let’s focus on Build, Build, Build.)

While the Philippines has more or less controlled COVID-19 in terms of local infections, it still has to grapple with the projected huge losses in the economic front over the sheer lack of tourists, particularly from China, since the national government has imposed a ban on travellers from the mainland as well as its territories Hong Kong and Macau.

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which triggers the COVID-19 acute respiratory disease, originated from Wuhan City, Hubei province in mainland China.

The average Chinese tourist in the Philippines on a package tour spends between $1,000 to $1,200 for a week-long stay, creating a huge demand for local goods and services. A total of 1,743,309 Chinese vacationers arrived in the Philippines in 2019.

“Peak season naman natin ng tourism December, God willing, after the second half of this year, wala nang COVID-19 or under control na, so dagsa na naman ang tourism (Our peak season for tourism is December, God willing, after the second half of this year, there would be no more COVID-19 or it would be under control. Tourism will thrive again),” Cayetano said.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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