Protection of tourism frontliners, boosting potential of lesser-known sites among plans of next DOT chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) — Liloan, Cebu Mayor Christina Frasco has laid down her initial plans in revitalizing the tourism industry once she takes the helm at the Department of Tourism under the Marcos administration.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday, Frasco said she can bring to the agency "a local government perspective" which will respond to the needs of all people behind the tourism industry, especially when disaster strikes.

"From my end, I believe that what I'll bring in to the department is a local government perspective, the perspective of which has been towards the most gravely affected individuals and groups, our stakeholders that have greatly suffered because of all of the restrictions, because of the pandemic, and the recent calamities," Frasco said.

She said that she aims to address from the grassroots level the ways and the means to provide "social protection" to frontliners of the industry like employees of hotels and resorts, and tour guides, among others, through financial and livelihood assistance.

Frasco also raised the need to boost the tourism potential of lesser-known sites and destinations, including those in the northern part of the country, by beefing up promotion of their products, culture, and heritage, having learned from Cebu's "Suros-Suroy" tourism program spearheaded by her mother, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.

"I've also come to realize from a local government perspective how important it is to be inclusive as far as tourism development is concerned," she noted.

"In Cebu, what we had is very close coordination between provincial and local governments, as far as setting the direction for tourism policies and programs," she also said.

Initial apprehensions

Frasco's name was recently added to the growing list of the Cabinet of president-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., ahead of his June 30 inauguration.

Frasco admitted that she initially had apprehensions to lead the agency, admitting that her mind was set on serving as a mayor.

She also said she had to consult first with Vice President-elect Sara Duterte, whom she serves as spokesperson.

"As well, I have a very young family, my husband Congressman Duke Frasco and I have four children, my eldest being 9 years old, and my youngest being only 10 months old," she confided. "Having such a young family was also one of the considerations I had in mind."

Frasco shared that her mother reminded her that accepting the job is not only a way of bringing honor to their province, but also a way of helping the country that is still reeling from the pandemic and calamities in the past.

Frasco said she will still take her oath as Liloan mayor on June 30, but will immediately vacate her post after Marcos' oath-taking on the same day.

Vice Mayor-elect Aljew Frasco, the cousin of her husband, will assume her post.

She will also continue to be Duterte's spokesperson for the meantime and assist in any way she can.

"When the transition comes [and I will have to be the] secretary of DOT, I will have to move on from being her spokesperson," Frasco added.