A total of 44,362 workers from Western Visayas shall receive cash assistance under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2), Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
Recipients from Negros Occidental and Bacolod City under the Department of Tourism (DOT)- Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Cash Assistance Program received certificates led by Tourism Sec. Puyat in a virtual ceremony held last Friday.
A total of Php 221,810,000 cash aid has been provided to the beneficiaries, mainly from the 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.
One of the beneficiaries, Adornado Saldua, president of Sipaway Island Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (SITODA), conveyed his gratitude and appreciation for the financial assistance they received from the government after the pandemic hit their livelihood.
Of the total number of beneficiaries in the region, Negros Occidental registered 16,149 workers who will receive one-time financial cash assistance of Php 5,000 each.
Additionally, the Iloilo Province recorded 9,605 workers, 9,728 workers are from Aklan, 7,512 workers are from Antique Province, 1,063 from Guimaras Province, and 845 workers are from Capiz Province as of April 22.
During the virtual awarding rites, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Lacson seconded the message of the tourism chief and expressed his gratitude to both the DOLE and DOT "for the expedite assistance."
He added 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.
Puyat further disclosed 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 the 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.