Foreign tourist revenues fell 35% in January-March period
The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday said they recorded a 35 percent decrease in revenue from foreign arrivals for the January to March period.
In a virtual presser, Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon, Jr. said from January to March, an estimate of P85 billion were generated compared to the P134 billion for the same period last year.
“Tourism has a big contribution to the national economy. Last year, an estimate of $9.5 billion was generated from inbound tourism in our country. But unfortunately, we were hit by the ( COVID-19) pandemic and our estimate for the first three months of 2020, our revenue went down by 35 percent from foreign arrivals,” Bengzon said.
“The impact (of COVID-19) is really huge and not only the Philippines is affected by the pandemic,” he added.
Once the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) are lifted, Bengzon said domestic tourism will help the sector get back on track that’s why they appeal to the public to go to local tourist spots.
“Based on the trend we are seeing, once the ECQ is lifted, the GCQ is lifted, (and) once tourism enterprises start operating… the one that will initiate the movement is the domestic tourist. It will start by domestic travel, by land (travel) with families, persons they know,” he said.
“We appeal to the people, once we are given the green light, let’s go on domestic tourism first so we can help restaurants, resorts that closed down and have no revenue (during the quarantine period),” he added.
But Bengzon reminded people to follow basic protocols such as social distancing, face masks, and use of hand sanitizers.
To help the tourism sector, Bengzon said a financial stimulus bill is being pushed in the Congress.
"On the draft bill, the proposal is to set aside approximately P43 billion for tourism. On the initial consultation, we made for stakeholders, we found that their greatest concern is survival and business continuity,” he said.
“So specifically, the help they need is in terms of working capital, wage subsidy, deferment of taxes or contributions… the initial computation we did, out of the P43 billion that will be allocated to us around P36 billion will go to working capital because the tour operators, travel agents and tourism enterprises need to get back because they help us in promoting and marketing the Philippines,” he added.
After helping stranded foreigners, the DOT will help stranded locals to get back to Metro Manila.
“We are arranging this now, our estimate is there are 2,200 domestic tourists that need to go back to Manila so the process is the stranded passenger will have to coordinate with DOT regional offices," he said.
"And it is important that they can present their confirmed return ticket that they are scheduled to go back to Manila but they were not able to fly back because domestic flights were temporarily suspended. The DOT will shoulder this (trip), ,” Bengzon added.
He said the DOT helped around 24,000 foreigners through their sweeper flights. Ella Dionisio/DMS