SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
MANILA — House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has called on the House Committee on Tourism and House Committee on Economic Affairs to start working with the Department of Tourism (DOT) to assess the short- and medium-term effects the 2019 novel corona virus (2019 nCov) on the tourism and travel industry, saying measures should be taken to cushion impact of the problem and harness other tourism markets.
“We acknowledge the necessity of the decision of some airlines to cancel flights and the government’s imposition of temporary travel ban from Hubei, China and other provinces of China that are seriously affected by the dreaded 2019-nCov, but we still have to prepare a plan to lessen its impact.” Cayetano said in a statement.
He said while the government is intensifying measures to prevent the spread of the 2019 nCoV, the House of Representatives “wants to work with the tourism and services sector to ensure that tourism growth will not be derailed in the next few months.”
Cayetano also underscored the need for the country to be ready in case the outbreak is prolonged. “It should not be a just a wait-and-see attitude because we don’t want our tourism industry to suffer,” he said.
DOT records show that 1.63 million of the total 7.4 million international tourist arrivals from January to November of 2019 were Chinese.
The Chinese are also considered the second biggest tourist spenders in the Philippines next to the South Koreans, with the DOT noting that Chinese tourists spent $979.4 million or around P51 billion in the country in the first half of 2019.
Cayetano said with a majority of Chinese travelers visiting the Asia-Pacific region every year, the 2019 nCoV outbreak “will definitely take a toll” on the following industries in the Asian economy - airlines, hotel and accommodations, restaurants, conferences, sporting events, leisure and gaming, and retail.
He noted that in Malaysia, the Tourism Arts and Culture Ministry has formed a Tourism Recovery Committee following the nCoV outbreak.
The committee is tasked to ensure the safety and comfort of all tourists by conducting health screening on all tourists using air, water, and land entry points to Malaysia.
The committee will also come up with plans to find new markets after the Chinese government banned overseas tours and the purchase of flights and hotels abroad.
Similarly, Cayetano has called on the various agencies of the Philippine government to work together to come up with a comprehensive contingency plan to cushion the impact of the 2019 nCoV, not just on the tourism industry, but all other sectors
in the Philippines.
“The government must pool its resources to prevent this public health issue from becoming an economic crisis.
The various local government leagues from the barangay, municipality, city, and provincial levels, as well as the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas should work together to share the right information to the public. These include hotlines and locations of health facilities.”