On a national scale the government stands to lose some P43 billion in tourism revenue if the ban will continue until April. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat revealed during a joint hearing of the House committees on tourism and economic affairs yesterday that the country is expected to lose over 795,000 tourist arrivals from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan should the travel ban last until April.
Mark Ralston/AFP
Workers to keep jobs despite travel ban’s impact
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - February 13, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Local hotels and restaurants have started to feel the brunt of the travel ban on China and its special administrative regions (SAR) due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. But despite the situation, workers are assured to keep their jobs.

On a national scale the government stands to lose some P43 billion in tourism revenue if the ban will continue until April. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat revealed during a joint hearing of the House committees on tourism and economic affairs yesterday that the country is expected to lose over 795,000 tourist arrivals from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan should the travel ban last until April.

Carlo Suarez, president of the Hotel Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu, said some of them resorted to five working days a week after their occupancy dropped by 10 to 20 percent.

According to Suarez, Chinese customers are not the only ones cancelling their bookings but other nationalities too. He added that the recent decision to include Taiwan in the travel ban would even aggravate the situation as it is also considered a big market.

Cebuano employers yesterday assured that they are keeping their employees despite the impact of the travel ban. Philip Tan, past president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the situation is only temporary. He said contingency plans are in place to cushion the effect of the virus outbreak to the labor sector.

“Contingencies have been prepared for possible temporary work arrangement wherein workers are not laid off but will work less number of days per week,” Tan told The Freeman.

MCCI president Steven Yu does not consider the impact of the travel ban as big threat to the economy, saying it is only temporary.

“We feel that these [effects] will be temporary, and will be absorbed by the other sectors who continue to hire more workers like BPOs, construction, manufacturing, and others,” he said.

Revenue Loss

The Department of Tourism projected P43 billion losses in tourism revenue in three months due to travel ban.

 “The expected reduction of tourist arrivals from the markets affected will result to forgone revenues that will carry over until April of this year,” Puyat said.

She said the combined projected revenue from China, SARs and Taiwan in February alone would have been P16.806 billion had there been no travel ban. The revenues for March and April, on the other hand, were pegged at P14.112 billion and P11.988 billion, respectively.

The DOT chief also told lawmakers that the Civil Aviation Board already recorded 465 cancelled flights per week as a result of the travel ban implemented by the government.

Tourist arrivals from mainland China constitute about 20% of the country's total tourist arrivals over the past several years.

Puyat, however, assured lawmakers that the DOT is undertaking measures to mitigate the repercussions of the travel ban.

“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 said.

Apart from travel promotions, Puyat said they would also implement partnerships with travel agents, promote summer packages and multi-destination passes and encourage government offices to hold out-of-town seminars.

Quarantine

 Meanwhile, General Manager Steve Dicdican of Mactan Cebu International Airport has requested police assistance due to refusal of some passengers to be quarantined.

Dicdican said most of the 78 Filipino passengers who arrived from Taiwan Tuesday night refused to be quarantined for 14 days. They are now temporarily held at the airport’s holding facility.

According to  Dicdican, the passengers were shocked to learn about the travel ban against Taiwan. Dicdican added that the passengers claimed that they were not informed of the mandatory quarantine procedure because they were already in transit to Cebu when the ban on the entry of flights from Taiwan was implemented.

Dicdican, however, said none of the 78 passengers from Taiwan have manifested symptoms of COVID-19.  Philstar News Service, FPL (FREEMAN)

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