Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go expressed his “full support” for the proposed 2020 budget of the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Monday, September 30, at the hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance.

“I am one with the Department of Tourism and Secretary (Bernadette Romulo–Puyat) in their efforts to boost the country’s international appeal while safeguarding the interests of the Philippines, above anything else,” Go further stated.

The Senator looked into the P3.85-billion proposed budget of the DOT and inquired how the agency plans to promote the country further to the international market while prioritizing the interests of the Filipinos first. 

“Tourism plays a vital role in the economy of the country. However, more than that, it is a great source of pride for the Philippines,” Go said.

“It is through this avenue that we are able to show the inherent, natural beauty of our beloved country and, of course, our amazing people. We all know that Filipino hospitality is unparalleled,” he added.

Puyat said that the Philippines had 7.17 million foreign tourists in 2018, 8.27% higher than in 2017, and 11.35 million domestic tourists, 15.3% higher than the previous year.

She added that foreigners usually visit the country for shopping, scuba diving, and visiting friends and relatives.

As part of their budget presentation, the DOT officials also presented the Philippines’ “tourism product portfolio,” namely, nature-based tourism, cultural tourism, cruise and nautical tourism, leisure and entertainment tourism, farm tourism, education tourism, sun and beach tourism, wellness and retirement tourism, diving and marine sports tourism, and meetings, incentives, and events tourism.

With some senators expressing their support for DOT and a shared desire to increase the budget, especially for the regional offices, the Senate Committee on Finance approved the department’s proposed budget.

Go also took this opportunity to ask the DOT officials “Do you know what is the number one tourist attraction in Davao City and even in the whole Philippines?”

After a few seconds of confusion in the room, Go quipped, “It’s President Duterte.”

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