Does your bucket list include traipsing all over Palawan’s beaches with President Rodrigo Duterte?
Well, if it does, that’s legitimately weird, but here’s your chance nonetheless: PRRD himself appeared in a Facebook video shared by his Communications Secretary Martin Andanar today urging Pinoys to accompany him as he visits the most beautiful tourist spots in the country.
“To my fellow Filipinos, I encourage you to travel with me around the Philippines. I assure you that everything is safe in our country, be it an issue of health, be it an issue of law and order, and be it an issue of accessibility,” the typically temperamental president said in the nearly two-minute video.
He also assured the public that there are affordable accommodations and flights available.
“There are a lot of beautiful places in the Philippines, you have nothing to worry [about]. These hoteliers and these carriers, they have agreed to lower the rates so that we can be a viable market for the Philippines,” he said in English and Filipino.
“Come with me and be my travel companion. I’ll be traveling around the Philippines. Let’s travel in our own country. Our home should be our priority. Long live Filipinos, long live Philippine tourism.”
Duterte’s video comes two days after the Tourism Department reported that the industry is expected to lose as much as PHP42.9 billion (US$850 million) from February to April due to the coronavirus scare, which led the Philippines to impose travel bans on visitors from China, Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Chinese tourists are the second biggest spenders after South Koreans, having spent US$979.4 million in the Philippines in the first six months of 2019.
The travel bans are a big blow to the country because tourism contributes as much as 12.7 percent to the gross domestic product, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.
It remains to be seen if Filipinos will heed Duterte’s call, and overcome their coronavirus-related anxieties to get their vacay on, but we guess they might — after all, people here are still relatively chill compared to what’s happening in some other places where the virus has struck.