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Duterte wants to boost domestic tourism amid nCoV threat

Tourism industry stakeholders agreed on Monday to spur domestic travel by lowering airfare and hotel rates following a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.

The measures are aimed at countering the negative effects of the spread of the novel coronavirus and to promote the country’s tourism sector to locals, according to Malacañang.

The mitigation plan comes after the Philippines imposed a temporary entry ban on foreigners who had traveled to virus-hit mainland China and its special administrative regions Macau and Hong Kong within the past 14 days.

The government later expanded the ban’s coverage to travelers from Taiwan. China and Taiwan are among the top tourism markets for the Philippines, which welcomed 7.48 million foreigners from January to November last year.

“The President wants Filipinos to visit the country’s local tourist destinations to boost the industry in the midst of the coronavirus scare,” the Palace said in a media release.

Duterte said the Philippines' tourist spots are readily accessible, even as he touted the public health and law and order situation in the country.

He expressed optimism that like other epidemics, the novel coronavirus will eventually be contained.

In an Instagram post on Monday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said the President will help promote the local tourist destinations.

“[T]he President is going to travel with us!” she wrote.

Among those who attended the meeting in Pasay City were Puyat, Philippine Hotel Owners Association president Arthur Lopez, AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricardo Isla, Philippine Airlines president Gilbert Santamaria, and Cebu Pacific Air President and CEO Lance Gokongwei.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Tourism Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato, and Tourism Assistant Secretary Howard Lance Uyking were also present. — MDM, GMA News