Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star ) – August 12, 2020 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Revenues from inbound tourism continued to drop in July, falling by 72 percent during the first seven months of the year, an official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.
“From January to July, we were able to record about 1.3 million foreign visitors. This represents a drop of about 73 percent compared to the same period last year,” Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said in an interview over ANC yesterday.
This led to inbound tourism revenue of P81 billion, a 72 percent drop from a year ago.
“Clearly, the tourism industry has been severely affected by the pandemic and of course this is a result of the travel restrictions that were imposed in the middle of March,” Bengzon said.
Tourism markets across the world have been registering losses in international revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported that the global tourism industry lost $320 billion in tourism receipts from January to May.
The UNWTO said the drop in international arrivals translated to a $300-billion loss in international tourism receipts, more than three times the losses during the global financial crisis of 2009.
While it is uncertain when the Philippines will allow the entry of international leisure travelers, Bengzon emphasized that the DOT is looking to focus on the domestic tourism market first, adding that the sector would help accelerate the recovery of the industry.
“We have a very huge domestic tourism base. Last year, there were about 109 million domestic trips. And we’re very confident that as we open up local destinations, it will be the local tourists who will be creating or stimulating the demand,”Bengzon said.
He added that the domestic tourism market makes up the bulk of the industry’s income as it contributed 10.8 percent to gross domestic product(GDP) in 2019. The entire tourism sector accounted for 12.7 percent.
Bengzon also cited results of the recent “Philippine Travel Survey Report: Insights of Filipino Travelers’ Sentiments on the New Normal,” conducted by the DOT, the Asian Institute of Management Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism and Guide to the Philippines,where it cited 77 percent of respondents expressing willingness to travel domestically even in the absence of a proven vaccine, showing potential for the recovery of the domestic tourism market.