“Even if the virus is suppressed by the second quarter, we’re afraid the damage to our tourism sector has already been done,” Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel said, noting that a Chinese tourist spends “up to $1,200” (roughly P60,000) per vacation here.
KJ Rosales/ File
COVID-19 may cost P72 billion in lost Chinese tourist receipts
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — At least P72 billion in tourism earnings may be lost by the Philippines due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as 1.2 million Chinese tourists are seen to cancel their visit to the country this year, a House official said yesterday.

“Even if the virus is suppressed by the second quarter, we’re afraid the damage to our tourism sector has already been done,” Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel said, noting that a Chinese tourist spends “up to $1,200” (roughly P60,000) per vacation here. 

“We do not anticipate a quick rebound in Chinese visitor arrivals, assuming two-way air travel between China and the Philippines is eventually restored,” the Surigao del Sur congressman said. 

“China might temporarily discourage its middle-class families from venturing overseas on tour groups and flight/hotel vacation packages. Beijing might instead encourage families to spend their money in the mainland to enable China’s economy to recover right away,” he said.

Pimentel believes that just like in Thailand, the average Chinese tourist in the Philippines on a package tour spends between $1,000 to $1,200 for a week-long stay, creating a huge demand for local goods and services, especially in the provinces.

China has been the Philippines’ fastest-growing supplier of foreign visitors since 2016.

Meanwhile, a key House official also called on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to immediately release the substantial salary adjustment for government nurses, especially in the wake of the coronavirus disease outbreak. 

“It is important that we now finally adjust the compensation for nurses in hospitals run by the national government in the wake of the COVID-19 menace,” Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero said. 

“Our nurses play a vital role in attending to infected patients and preventing the spread of the deadly virus,” the 1Pacman party-list congressman reiterated. 

“All the DBM had to do now is to implement the mandate of Congress and the SC ruling,” Romero stressed. He pointed out that Republic Act 11466 provides that the salary increase for nurses, as well as other government personnel, took effect last Jan. 1.

 RA 11466, approved last Jan. 8, is the Salary Standardization Law that paved the way for the modification of the salary for civilian government personnel like public nurses, where they were granted substantial additional benefits borne out of their measly salary. 

COVID-19 DBM
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