Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat today (May 7) announced the approval of Php 221,810,000 cash assistance for 44,362 workers from Western Visayas under the Department of Tourism (DOT) – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Cash Assistance Program under the Bayanihan 2.
Of the total number of beneficiaries in the region, Negros Occidental logged 16,149 workers who have been approved to receive a one-time cash assistance of Php 5,000 each from the program; 9,065 workers are from Iloilo Province; 9,728 workers from Aklan Province; 7,512 workers from Antique Province; 1,063 from Guimaras Province, and 845 workers from Capiz Province as of April 22.
In a virtual awarding ceremony, Puyat led the awarding of certificates to 1,110 workers from 15 establishments and organizations from Negros Occidental and Bacolod City. Most of the beneficiares recognized in the event came from primary and secondary tourism establishments, tourism support services, and community-based tourism organizations.
“To the beneficiaries who are with us today, I want to thank you for your patience, but I also want to reassure you that through our ongoing programs and projects, the tourism industry will recover and will be more resilient. The DOT and DOLE will be with you on this journey,” Puyat said in her opening remarks.
Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Lacson seconded the message of the tourism chief, adding that the government is trying its best to mitigate the ill effects of the pandemic. “While waiting for the day that this crisis will end, let us remain resilient and adaptable. For now, please use the grant given to you judiciously,” Lacson said.
One of the beneficiaries Adornado Saldua, president of Sipaway Island Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (SITODA), expressed, “Kami ay nagpapaabot ng pasasalamat sa ipinagkaloob ninyong financial assistance sa aming grupo sa isla ng Sipaway. Isang malaking tulong ang ibinigay ninyong biyaya, na ipinaabot ninyo sa panahon ng pandemya.”
Puyat further disclosed that that the DOT, through its attached agency Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), has allocated Php 4.4 million for the tourism recovery program of Negros Occidental, which will commence this month until February 2022.
Projects under this recovery program include the development of a Negros Occidental VISITA app, and production of videos promoting tourism under the new normal.
“While the DOT’s recovery programs for the tourism industry are still in the initial stages, we hope that financial assistance programs for displaced workers, such as the joint DOT-DOLE program under Bayanihan 2, can help our tourism employees get back on their feet,” the tourism chief added.
As of April 30, there are 658 DOT-accredited accommodation establishments (AEs) in the region, a 35 percent increase from 2019. Of this number, 19 percent or 122 establishments are located in Negros Occidental and Bacolod City.