Tourism may lose P42B from COVID-19 travel ban

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    TOURISM Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat yesterday said the country may lose up to P42 billion in tourism revenues because of restrictions on travelers from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan arising from the new coronavirus disease, now officially called COVID-19.

    “The expected reduction of tourist arrivals from the markets affected will result in forgone revenues that will carry over until April of this year,” Puyat told a joint hearing of the House committees on tourism and on economic affairs, chaired by Rep. Sol Aragones of Laguna and Sharon Garin of AAMBIS OWA party-list.

    The travel ban was imposed on February 2, the same day the health department announced the first COVID-19 fatality in the Philippines. The fatality was a Chinese man from Wuhan City in China, the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

    Puyat said the country may lose P16 billion worth of tourism revenues for this month alone but “efforts are being undertaken by the DOT to cushion the impact.”

    “We are discussing rollout of more value-added tour packages, discounted accommodation rates and marked down prices for domestic flights,” she said.

    Puyat cited data from the Civil Aviation Board that 465 flights a week are cancelled due to COVID-19.

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

    Puyat said the tourism sector is working to boost domestic tourism, with some airlines and hotels coming up with promotions.

    President Duterte on Monday told local airlines and the tourism to promote tourist destinations in the country as an alternative to tourist areas abroad.

    Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon of the National Economic and Development Authority said the country may lose as much as P22.7 billion a month because of the COVID-2019 scare.

    “Applying (the) multiplier effect of tourism, we expect that per month, including domestic airline receipts … we think it’s in the order of about P22.7 billion per month,” Edillon told the joint panel.

    “Our estimate is that if this goes on for five months, so meaning all the way to the second quarter, then the impact on the GDP (gross domestic product) will be at minus 0.3 for the full year,” Edillon said, noting that the country’s tourism sector contributes 12.7 percent to the GDP.