MANILA – The first-ever Philippine Shopping Festival scheduled this March is the Department of Tourism’s way of reducing the effects of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, on the country’s visitor arrivals.
DOT Assistant Secretary for branding and marketing communications Howard Lance Uyking said they are now focusing on domestic tourism following the temporary travel ban on China, which is the country’s second largest market.
“Actually, initially kaya tayo nag-sale is to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19,” he told reporters on Thursday, on the sidelines of the launch of DOT’s projects for 2020.
“Kahit tayo mismo nag-cancel tayo ng flights abroad, so we are taking the opportunity na instead of going abroad, why not visit the Philippines? It’s safe here. Better to travel domestically during this time,” he added.
DOT has partnered with malls, airlines, hotels, resorts, and travel agencies for the 2020 Philippine Shopping Festival, which will run from March 1 to 31.
According to Uyking, visitors can expect deals that are 30% to 70% lower than published rates as he directed the public to regularly check the DOT’s new marketing website for updates.
“Right now, the site is only showing deals from AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, and Philippine Airlines, and also tour packages from accredited agencies,” he said. “In the coming days, we will start including deals from hotels and malls.”
Meanwhile, Uyking assured that safety measures are in place in participating establishments to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the shopping festival.
“We’ve released a clarificatory joint statement with DOH (Department of Health) and DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government), saying that public gatherings are okay as long as precautionary measures by the DOH are observed,” he explained.
“So sa mga malls, kung napansin niyo, like SM, they have temperature checks. So if you have fever, which is a main symptom of COVID-19, hindi kayo papapasukin sa malls,” he ended.