Tourism takes big hit from COVID-19 scare

February 12, 2020

THE local tourism industry is expected to lose some P42.9 billion in the next three months of this year because of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) scare.

This is according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat based on the projected tourist arrivals from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Appearing before the joint committee hearing of economic affairs and tourism, Puyat said the travel ban imposed on these countries will greatly affect the industry as well as the local employment.

In her report to Congress, Puyat said the country is seen to lose over P16.80 billion in February; P14.11 billion in March and P11.98 billion in April.

“The expected reduction of tourist arrivals will result in forgone revenues that will carry over until April of this year,”Puyat said.

“Efforts are being undertaken by the DOT to cushion the impact. We are discussing roll out of more value-added tour packages, discounted accommodation rates and marked down prices for domestic flights,” she told the two panels.

Based on the data of the DOT, out of 7.4 million tourist arrivals from January to November 2019, 1.63 million were Chinese.

In addition, the Chinese are also the second biggest tourist spenders in the Philippines next to South Koreans. During the first half of 2019, Chinese have spent around P51 billion.

Data from the Civil Aviation Board showed that there are already 465 cancelled flights per week due to COVID-19.

Airline companies said refund of tickets, cancellation and rebooking have caused them around P3 billion.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has ordered the two committees chaired by AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin(economic affairs) and Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones (tourism) to conduct a hearing to determine the impact of the COVID-19 on the economy and tourism of the Philippines.