AS GOVERNMENT DEFERS MGCQ: Worst-hit sectors seek reopening

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    Feeling the pinch. A waitress goes about her tasks at a restaurant in Manila on June 16, 2020. While operating capacities and delivery services have increased since, restaurants continue to suffer from low revenues due to the restrictions. (Reuters photo)

    The three industries severely affected by the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic support the easing of restrictions even as they pivot to the new normal and anticipate better business in 2021.

    But leaders of the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) and the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP) told a forum hosted by the Management Association of the Philippines the level of reopening depends on the rollout of the vaccine.

    Yet based on a survey of IBPAP, only six of 10 of their workers are willing to get vaccinated.

    A separate survey conducted by HRAP showed a lower proportion; nearly over half of their employees want to get the vaccine.

    Economic frontliners

    Rosemarie Ong, PRA president, expressed hope President Duterte would reconsider his previous decision not to put the country into a more relaxed quarantine status by March, saying reopening would boost spending and will help prop up the economy.

    Retail, Ong said, accounts for 20 percent of the economy.

    She described the protocols in the country as too restrictive.

    PRA has asked the Inter-agency Task Force to upgrade the priority status of retail workers from 10th to “economic frontliners” to be able to get vaccines early.

    “We are still optimistic despite the challenges,” said Ong, chief operating officer of Wilcon Builders, and added retailers have learned to adopt to safety and health protocols while shifting to omnichannels to reach customers.

    IT-BPM to grow 2-5%

    Lito Tayag, IBPAP chairman of the board, said despite the extended general community quarantine, the industry sees a 3 to 5 percent growth this year from a flat performance, in 2020.

    This would translate to an additional of as much as 65,000 workers from the 1.3 million ending 2020.

    Tayag said growth would be noted across the sub-segments that include contact centers, software, game development and animation, global in-house centers and health information management.

    Tayag said the IT-BPM sector has achieved a 95 percent producitivtiy with hybrid work arrangements to ensure safety of workers while still serving clients efficiently.

    Domestic tourism boom

    Eugene Yap, HRAP president, said the group sees 2021 as the year of domestic tourism due to the large population of the country and 2022 will be the year for international tourism for the Philippines.

    “Now is the best time to open… there will be a boom in domestic tourism in 2021 as destinations lika Baguio and Boracay start opening,” Yap said.

    Yap added HRAP members have shifted their business models — converting hotels to quarantine facilities and hosting smaller meetings while restaurants are serving takeout and delivery and have setting up outdoor dining.