'Until we can travel again': DOT's 'Wake up in the Philippines' urges tourists to stay at home for now
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - May 23, 2020 - 12:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — Do you miss traveling in the Philippines?

The Department of Tourism last month launched a promotional video called “Wake up in the Philippines” where it urges tourists to remain at home for now amid the COVID-19 pandemic and just dream of the Philippine tourist destinations until we can travel again.

“Beyond the Philippines' breathtaking beaches, you can discover a wide range of exhilarating adventures, relaxing getaways, and diverse cultures that can sate the wanderlust you must be feeling right now,” the DOT said in April, addressing the foreign tourists.

“But until we can travel again, stay at home, dream, and #WakeUpInPH by planning your next dream vacation to our tropical nation: philippines.travel/wakeupinph,” it added.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat showed the promotional video anew during a panel discussion on the future of travel with the World Travel and Tourism Council last Tuesday.

The Wake up in the Philippines campaign’s website also showcased other promotional videos for the country’s tourist destinations such as Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Cordillera Administrative Region and Bicol Region.

Challenges faced by tourism industry

The COVID-19 pandemic posed threat to 5.4 million jobs generated by the tourism industry in 2018.

At a Senate hearing into the government response to COVID-19 last Wednesday, Puyat said the DOT estimated a decrease of 54.01% in foreign tourist arrivals for the period of January to April 2020 with only 1,318,719 visitors recorded compared to last year’s 2,867,551. The country seeks to have 9.2 million visitors this year, but Puyat earlier said it would be understandable if this target won't be reached.

“We also estimate revenue from foreign tourist arrivals for the period January to April 2020 to have reached P79.80 billion or a decrease of -55.79% compared to P180.52 billion in January to April 2019,” she added.

The tourism chief on Friday, however, reiterated that the agency and tourism stakeholders are already preparing for the “new normal” for travel where they are set to prioritize the safety of the public and sanitation of facilities.

She said domestic tourism would resume once the areas are placed under modified general community.

“When we have the modified GCQ this only 50% (operation). It cannot be 100%,” she said in a virtual interview with ANC.

Past tourism gains

On Tuesday, Gloria Guevara Manzo, CEO and President of WTTC, praised the Philippines' tourism growth and called it impressive.

Puyat, in her opening statement during the panel discussion, reported the Philippine tourism's milestone in 2019 when it obtained a record-high international tourist arrivals of 8.26 million; a 15.2% increase from the previous year.

The tourism industry also contributed to 12.7% of the country’s gross domestic product  in 2019.

Global tourism outlook

However, the Philippine tourism department and the WTTC acknowledged the setbacks from the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

The WTTC approximates that up to 100 million jobs globally will be affected. It also predicts that the Asia-Pacific region is expected to be most heavily affected with up to 63 million jobs at risk.

The two tourism bodies, however, remain optimistic that the industry would recover and see this as an opportunity to improve the guidelines for such unprecedented crisis.

“The challenges brought about by the current health crisis that we are experiencing should not deter us from fulfilling our mission to ensure that the industry is seamless, secure, safe, inclusive and sustainable,” Puyat said.

The WTTC, for its part, recommended guidelines for when the tourism reopens while the DOT said it would abide by the guidelines set by the World Health Organization and the Department of Health for the future domestic tourism reopening.

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