Inbound tourism revenue falls 61 % to P81 billion in 5 months
In a virtual press briefing yesterday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said international arrivals for January to May 2020 dropped 62.21 percent to 1.3 million arrivals from 3.49 million in the same period last year.
Miguel De Guzman, file
Inbound tourism revenue falls 61 % to P81 billion in 5 months
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - June 4, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The estimated reverse inbound tourism further plunged 60.56 percent to P81.05 billion in the five months to May due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic, the chief of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

In a virtual press briefing yesterday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said international arrivals for January to May 2020 dropped 62.21 percent to 1.3 million arrivals from 3.49 million in the same period last year.

“We removed visas last March 22, so April and May there were practically zero arrivals,”Puyat said.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) earlier said the number of international visitor arrivals worldwide is projected to further decline by up to 78 percent this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the numbers have declined, this did not deter us from pursuing responsive initiatives,” Puyat said citing the DOT’s response in assisting stranded foreign and local tourists.

Puyat said DOT has assisted a total of 36,947 stranded foreign and domestic tourists, since land, air and sea travel restrictions were imposed by the government as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the disease.

DOT said it assisted a total of 27,620 foreign tourists in terms of coordinating with national and local government units, embassies and airline companies in mounting sweeper and commercial recovery flights, land and sea transportation, provision of meals, and accommodation arrangements.

In addition, DOT was able to provide assistance to 9,237 domestic tourists stranded in various parts of the country.

Last April,the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the DOT’s request to undertake necessary measures to charter and fund sweeper flights for qualified stranded local tourists from other regions to NCR.

This resulted in DOT coordinating with local airlines to mount flights to Metro Manila from provincial airports in Butuan, Caticlan, Cebu, Davao, El Nido, Iloilo and Puerto Princesa.

Apart from mounting flights, DOT through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and its regional offices, also provided one-time cash assistance to qualified domestic tourists whose air and land tickets were affected by the quaratine implementation.

Puyat expressed hopes the combined efforts of DOT, government agencies, and the private sector during the pandemic will be remembered by tourists and would serve as encouragement to revisit the Philippines once inbound international travel is allowed and global travel restrictions eased.

Moreover, another response of the DOT is the crafting of the Tourism Response and Recovery Program (TRRP) which was made in cooperation with national government agencies and stakeholders through the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP).

TRRP is designed to revitalize the country’s tourism industry, including programs, projects, and activities under six thematic outcomes with emphasis on sustaining businesses, training or capacitating the workforce, and protecting vulnerable groups.

“In the next few days, we will be doing our regional consultations with the stakeholders which will culminate in the national consultation,” Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr.

“Eventually we will be submitting to the management the draft final report by June 11,” he added.

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM
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